Tuesday, February 21, 2017

#ProjectReseda: PWG's Tango and Cash Invitational Tag Team Championship Tournament, Night 1

PWG Tango & Cash Invitational Tournament for the first ever PWG Tag Team Championship

So PWG's site states this venue is in Santa Ana and I'm not sure what kind it is but it looks pretty cool. Theater seats are in the building yet it isn't full at all.

Los Luchas(Phoenix Star and Zokre) vs Chris Bosh and Quicksilver(Batman and Robin)

Bosh and Silver start us off hot by jumping their opponents from behind but LA LUCHA is strong with the luchadores tonight. This match is lucha as fuck which has come to be accepted when all four are in a match, especially with Los Luchas. Things get pretty sloppy though in spots and that comes with the risks involved with a lucha based kind of offense I feel like. Especially when it comes to young guys like these four. Bosh is totally a guy that is deceptively athletic and good in the ring. Now I can see why he was amongst the first Americans in Dragon Gate. Bosh and Silver just work like a pack of dogs on Phoenix Star to get a win  but the Phoenix is a resilient babyface that get Zokre in to take out the trash. This is a good opening round match and not much else. **

The X Foundation(Scott Lost and Joey Ryan) vs M-Dogg 20 and Babi Slymm

M-Dogg says that Jardi Frantz isn't here because while taking a munchie break at McDonald's, he hit a little girl on a pink bike. M-Dogg then says that he saw some jacked up black dude and chose him as his partner, that man is Babi Slymm! Dogg shows us his breakdancing skillz and Slymm is visibly impressed as is everyone in Santa Ana! Slymm has perhaps the coolest bandana pattern pants in wrestling history. Slymm is the biggest man so of course, Lost and Ryan have trouble putting him down until they double team. It works for a little bit, then Slymm makes them pay before M-Dogg comes in the ring. M-Dogg is quickly beaten down by Lost and Ryan because they're a WELL OILED MACHINE. M-Dogg does he usual, flippy stuff. M-Dogg does one of the shittiest top rope moves ever on Lost, landing right on his knees. Slymm isn't the best in the ring himself but I feel like a lot of that is due to him not trying all that hard. *1/2

Hardkore Kidd and Al Katraz(Castaway) vs The Havana Pitbulls(Rocky Romero and Ricky Reyes also billed in this tournament as Turner and Hooch)

Hardkore Kidd is quite annoying and his bright red dye job doesn't do him favors. SPRINGBOARD MISSLE DROPKICK BY ROMERO ON AL KATRAZ! Fuck you big, roided up fools because The Pitbulls are short but dangerous. Kidd and Katraz should be named Team Blind Barbers because both of them have awful haircuts. The Pitbulls are just all over them though with double teams and quickness as should be the case when you're badly undersized. Of course it isn't long until the bigger team takes over. Kidd botches like fucking crazy. God bless The Pitbulls for being mega workers or this would have been so awful. *

Exalibur and Jonny Storm(Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein) vs Super Dragon and Bryan Danielson(Bill and Ted's Bogus Adventure)

Ok this is fucking awesome that Excalibur and Jonny Storm tagged. Dragon continues his run of ruining fans' dreams by tearing his sign and Danielson is pretty fucking mean too. Man, this is going to be great. The crowd definitely wakes up in this one which is no surprise considering what we've seen previously. PWG godfathers Excalibur and Dragon start us off and show off some swank shit. I'm loving Danielson being influenced by Dragon and not taking ANY shit from the fans. Lovely intimidation. Danielson does everything he can to stretch the everloving shit out of Excalibur and succeeds by literally twisting him into a pretzel. Jonny Storm is really ace here also showing he was more than just flippy goodness. This is definitely a hidden gem and a match I've never heard a thing about. By no means is this like a revolutionary match or anything, just intriguing with the different styles coming together. Some will watch this and go into nit-picking mode but I'm not like that unless it is just terrible (see M-Dogg 20 vs Super Dragon from The Debut Show). One of the most ridiculous reverse rana spots live in this match and I'm still wondering how Super Dragon didn't die on that. ***1/2

The Ballard Brothers(Twins) vs Samoa Joe and Puma(Lilo and Stitch)

My God, Samoa Joe is involved so you know I'm extra intrigued. The Ballards are always dependable so we've got a good one perhaps. Puma goofs some shit up but hey, we are all humans. Joe in this era is just a whole different animal than anyone else because he would just devour people when he got on a roll. Shannon Ballard gets knocked OUT in a really scary moment and so in 2004 obviously the match ended right? Nope the ref and his tag partner drag him to the corner so he can tag out. Really crazy shit. To be fair, people tend to him really fast on the outside so I don't want it to sound like no one cared. Shane has to pull this thing out alone now but Puma and Joe are really dangerous for someone to fight alone. We see CM Punk come out as part of that brigade to check on Shannon so that's something to give him props for. Understandably, the match doesn't last long after the injury. I feel weird rating this but I also don't want to give this nothing so I'll give it *. I feel awful for all four guys because you know Puma and Joe hated that someone got hurt.

Disco Machine and Rising Son(Shanghai Knights) vs B-Boy and Homicide(Friday)

This is our first look at Rising Son who is a pretty talked about name of this era in So Cal. B-Boy and Homicide are on the same page if that page involves beating the shit out of people and doing it entertainingly. They do that in droves here. Rising Son is OK to me and that is about it. B-Boy and Cide use that ok status to basically practice their offense on. Disco is fuckin' pissed and ready on the apron wanting the hot tag. This is a means to an end really just to get us towards the second round. *1/2

Sal and Vito Thomaselli(Blues Brothers 2000) vs Sara Del Rey and Apollo Khan(48 Hours)

If you were to tell anyone in 2004 that Del Rey would be spearheading a women's wrestling change in WWE a decade later, I don't think anyone would have even been able to process that. Mainly because she is really tense as a worker because shit, she's a rookie basically here. Khan is fairly ok and the Thomasellis were pretty prevalent on the indy scene of yesteryear. Vito wrestles Sara around for us early and it is pretty good. The Thomasellis are DICKS which is great. Khan continues to look good also. Sara of course takes the heat and she takes a pretty big beating. A decent, short match. Sara takes a damn chair irish whip into a whole row of them which looks pretty cool. *1/2

Christopher Daniels and Messiah(We're No Angels) vs CM Punk and Chris Hero(City Slickers 2: The Legend of Curly's Gold)

This is the epitome of a WTF match. Longtime rivals Hero and Punk tagging is just really cool to see and of course, Daniels and Messiah speaks for itself. This is actually pretty awesome aside from the novelty. Punk and Daniels go like crazy and I do believe this was around the time they were working an angle in ROH. Hero was so damn crisp even then. Hero's in his World of Sport phase here and shows off some of his findings with Messiah which is just absolutely surreal. Messiah is the weak link but not in the way some might expect he just simply isn't as good as the other three but he doesn't really fuck anything up. Hero and Punk work the arms of both opponents and I'm oddly feeling an Andersons vibe from all this limb work. This is good! Punk gets a hot tag and DELIVERS WITH THE HEAT. Messiah finally fucks up what I can only assume was a Death Valley Driver attempt but we quickly forget about that because of THE FINISH. **1/2

Adam Pearce vs Frankie Kazarian for the PWG World Title

Frankie comes from behind and takes Pearce by surprise and shit is ON. After months of build we finally get this match and bravo PWG, it's fun stuff. Kazarian creams Pyle and Pearce with a plancha to really get that babyface shine going. Kazarian for some weird reason reaches into the back pocket of Rick Knox and we see that he's packing a MAGNUM CONDOM. There was something I didn't need to know about Mr. Knox. Kazarian falls trap to the ways of the heel as many babyfaces do. I really like that these guys put it all out there and put on a real solid match. Kazarian hits a NICE piledriver giving Pearce a taste of his own medicine. Pearce pulls an indy guy move and kicks out of Kazarian's finisher because he doesn't give a fuck! Then he goes ahead and realigns Kazarian's spine with a very nasty piledriver but Kazarian will not DIE. The guys nearly die while fighting on the top turnbuckle which looks incredibly flimsy but Kazarian finds a way to make it work. The match has a really weird finish that the crowd shits on pretty hard. When you think like a booker though, it isn't a bad move to build towards a rematch and also, this weekend wasn't about them it was about the tournament. Either way, this is good stuff. ***

Overall show rating: B

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Rassle Tribune #5: A New Year, A Same Old Shit Program

New Year's Resolutions are bullshit. Anytime I've ever heard someone in passing mention some kind of ridiculous standard that they've set on themselves for a calendar year, I tended to roll my eyes in disgust. To me, the numerical value that a year represents has nothing to do with changing your life in any considerable way. If you can't tangibly reason to yourself why you should do or be something that you honestly aren't. The reason all these resolutions fail is because people put unreasonable and unrealistic guidelines on their lives in hopes that for one year they'll change themselves and pull themselves out of whatever gutter they've landed in this particular time. So that's mainly why I never bought into the hype BUT! Here I sit, in my bedroom in a weary haze on the first day of the first month of the new year thinking to myself: you should use this resolution bullshit to write more. Now usually I at least attempt to lie to myself about my ulterior motives, but I can't possibly do that to you or myself on this one. It's so painfully obvious that I'm a flaky fool when it comes to transcribing my thoughts and reviews on this damned white screen that mocks me all too often with its vengeful arrogance in the face of complete static nothingness. In that nothingness I finally realized why resolutions CAN work. If you do make your said New Year's Resolution something that does align with yourself as a being, and in a way something you know you've been avoiding for far too long. I love writing. I love the feeling writing gives me when I finally sit my keyboard down and sigh in relief from the barrage of words and errors that stream through my head when this whole writing thing happens. However I always want to make excuses for putting it off. Why? Maybe I'll never truly know. Maybe it is the years of depression that I've been lying to myself about since the age of 13 and masked it all with substances and bullshit rhetoric about macho stuff I'll never have the guts to do. That's really who we are and what we are after all, the charred remains of all the horrible forest fires one goes through as they grow up in various forms and fashions. In that vain, I've decided to not to write in the hopes that I'll fulfill some ridiculous resolution, but to complete myself for once. Perhaps writing about this sport(SPORT!) that I've loved since I can recall anything can help me along this trek we all are burdened with towards finding peace and purpose.


WWE Survivor Series 2016
The build towards this big event was totally ridiculous all too often. I may be in the minority on this belief but for me, the idea that a brand extension just three months old would be compromised with a big inter promotional card that would expose the weaknesses of both brands. Just as I expected, this was mostly the case. This was very clear in both the women's and tag elimination matches in my view, really showcasing that RAW has the absolute upper hand when it comes to those divisions at this moment in time. I loved the “singles” elimination match because it told a story. It was as if WWE took a page out of the doldrums 2007-onward TNA playbook with the odd couple teams. Granted, such an inter promotional theme forces that kind of thing and WWE did well in making that a big angle in all matches especially in the marquee elimination match.






WWE TLC 2016

This is such a bizarre show for many reasons. It, much like the Clash of Champions show, is the victim of way too many shows in way too short of a time span. Luckily for Team Blue, they've got a whole lot more going for it creatively than RAW does for the most part. Granted, I don't really see any potential in an ongoing issue between James Ellsworth and Styles but when you see the RAW Champion being Chris Jericho's second-fiddler it isn't that hard to figure out that SmackDown has a lot more going for it. Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss have been phenomenal in making their tables match feel important. Randy Orton as a vessel of The Wyatt Family has also been quite great to watch. Having four announcers is a mess for the product on Tuesdays but that's the usual WWE “against-the-grain” thinking that consistently paints them in corners.

Heath Slater and Rhyno(c) vs Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship
To think that I'd be excited for the alliance of Wyatt and Orton when this year started is just absurd. These two guys are such stark contrasts of each other, yet together along with Luke Harper it feels interesting and different. Of course, Orton will surely go rouge but hey, maybe it'll lead to Bray truly getting a shove. Slater and Rhyno have definitely jumped the shark as an act and it was super clear when the fans seemed to completely give no fucks about them going to the ring.

Rhyno and Bray start the match with an odd visual. Bray overwhelms the old timer and in comes Orton to stomp the shit out of him for good measure. Orton is so awesome. Slater is pretty damn awesome also, especially as the plucky underdog. Slater gets the dogshit beat out of him by both opponents, is cut off from Rhyno like SMART TAG LOGIC DICTATES, and Slater is forced into desperation. Slater gets a glimmer of hope but as is the case these days, The Wyatt Family snuffed it out like a cruel tyrant. This was your standard, good tag match with strong logic in the outline of the match. Harper played sacrificial lamb which led right into the finish and we have new champs! This is notable as Bray Wyatt's first ever WWE main title. Big stuff. ***

There was a stupid Ambrose promo about Ellsworth “keeping his chin up” and selling it poorly. How did WWE manage to take a great promo guy and make him this fucking bad? This is like WCW with Lance Storm level ineptitude. I appreciate Ambrose as a worker and dude but Christ, this writing for him is murder. What is WWE's obsession with making all their new top guys look like total goofs?

This is followed by….ANOTHER PROMO WOW. It's AJ this time and it is a much better promo early on. AJ puts over Dean as resilient but that tonight, resilience isn't going to be a factor because he'll wreck him with the plunder! Could WWE finally get it with AJ as a serious champion? Probably not.

Nikki Bella vs Carmella, No DQ
This feud is drawn out and terrible. I don't understand how WWE expects anyone to give two shits about these two? We get the video package outlining why we should care, and it just proves that this is indeed drawn out for three fucking MONTHS. Try to imagine two blow-up dolls having a fake fight and it will be close to how this thing went. 0

The Miz(c) vs Dolph Ziggler in a Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship
While this feud has gone on for wayyyy too long, these two have great chemistry so their matches are always fun to watch. Miz has been on a whole different level this year, and mostly it has been in the last 6 months or so. Dolph has been on and off, much like he's been his whole career. The real story here is between Miz and Daniel Bryan, who has served as the perfect foil for the cocky Miz as the do-gooder authority figure.

It is so intriguing when WWE takes something that has little life in it for various reasons and manages to squeeze something special out of it. This felt very important at the start, with Miz and Dolph both gazing up at the belt before going into violent fury. Lots of your standard back and forth spots were the beginnings of this one, but the aura of danger helped things. Miz gets tossed into ladders all around the place and things look like they're totally in Dolph's favor. Miz takes advantage of Dolph's stupidity and stalling to drive a ladder deep into his torso, but even Miz himself falls victim to over zealousness. Miz nearly gets his brains splattered between the rungs of a ladder, yet Dolph is cut off and takes a drop toe hold into the ladder face first. Awesome. That word describes this match fairly well I'd say. These guys didn't try to innovate how ladder matches are done or anything, they used timeless tropes from the past involving this stipulation and played on them in a good way. This is proof that sometimes doing the obvious stuff is best, not everyone should be trying the kind of shit that The Young Bucks do and there's reason: they have that market cornered. These guys were entertaining, believable enough, and simply GOOD. I really loved the title attempts and they had good drama to them. Dolph is so great at making you believe he is going to get that belt after all and Miz is happy to toss him far to the canvas. Miz does his taunting dropkick into the corner that is only meant for Bryan but I must say Miz's dropkick is pretty strong these days. It's amazing how Dolph's knee seems to get caught in a trap every time he wrestles Miz. It's like this shit is rigged. Miz kills his knee using a ladder because why not. FIGURE FOUR USING A LADDER. Perhaps they DID do some innovation after all. Dolph tries to persevere but he eats a ladder thanks to a Skull Crushing Finale. Miz gets his hands on the structure holding his title and Dolph moves the ladder, leaving Miz hanging free! He finally takes quite a nasty bump and rolls to the floor as if he took a bullet. From there on out it is simply a sprint to the finish and both men were on their game. ***3/4

Kalisto vs Baron Corbin in a Chairs Match
Total shit build. The crowd couldn't have cared any less for either guy going into this one but I have to say they did the best they could with quite a weak gimmick match to use. Kalisto did his usual, awesome spots and Baron played King Kong so it wasn't awful. If Kalisto were on the indies, he'd be having barnburners with Ospreay somewhere but alas we get him in a fucking stupid feud with Corbin. Such is the wrestling business. Corbin did one of the god awful worst hanging spots with Kalisto wherein he just gently tossed him around, ending the sequence with an uninspired toss into a row of chairs. Believe me it was much less dangerous than it sounds. Kalisto did a really awesome hurricanrana press ala Rey Mysterio and it wasn't the finish and at this point I was done with this shit. ** merely because of Kalisto being so great.

Becky Lynch(c) vs Alexa Bliss in a Tables Match for the SmackDown Women's Championship
These two ladies can GO! They show highlights of their match in Glasgow, complete with the controversial finish. Wow, you give someone an out and suddenly the rematch means something. Sounds like the old days. They show the contract signing and I won't lie I marked out. I really love these two ladies and I'm hoping this will deliver the way that I think it could.

These women just get to fighting like hell. That's what I like in 'rasslin. They fight around until finally Becky gets a table set up after way too long in a very funny moment. They tease a suplex to the floor but Alexa cuts Becky off and they work Becky falling into the table but she escapes danger! Great work. Becky continues to get caught in traps that Alexa sets, getting frustrated and countered easily by the cool-headed and nefarious Bliss. When it comes to setting up tables, the ladies seem to have issues but then again this isn't exactly common knowledge on how to seamlessly do table spots. We get a Queen of the Mountain spot up on the top with Becky teasing for the superplex finish but Alexa is too scrappy! Becky falls and dishevels the table as we start back from the beginning. Alexa's flipping knees combo is so awesome. More table awkwardness as Alexa tries to get the win but Becky takes advantage of the time waste. Alexa wisely flips the table away once she was in danger and then drove Becky head first into the back of the table with a DDT! That looks really nasty landing on the undercarriage of the table. The crowd really came up for that one naturally. Becky manages to lock on the Dis Arm Her submission THROUGH ONE OF THE TABLE LEGS! Awesome but the ref can't call a submission! Beautiful work and a bit of a call back to the Glasgow match. Becky hits a really sloppy uranage slam and damn these ladies look worn down. Alexa is set up on the bottom rope on a table but she fights her way up to her feet and throws Becky to the canvas with an Iconoclasm! Awesome stuff and Becky is all kinds of fucked up now. Alexa isn't done with her though and it nearly costs her dearly when she's given a drop toe hold face first into the table but it luckily doesn't break. The battle spills out to the apron and both women fight like hell. Alexa drops to the floor, Becky tries for a kick to the face and is caught with a powerbomb through the table on the floor for the win! Really good match and I'm excited about this division again! ***3/4

After the match, Becky is extremely mad about everything and we get the hint of an attitude change.

AJ Styles(c) vs Dean Ambrose in a TLC Match for the WWE World Championship
I've been one of the more vocal people about this latest James Ellsworth tie-in with this feud but they've made it work. Ellsworth has gone from a total goon to a really good pawn in the game between Ambrose and Styles. There's nothing better in 2016 than seeing AJ whip Ellsworth's ass like crazy and Ellsworth selling like a goof. Ambrose has kind of lost his luster though and his wacky bullshit promos aren't helping. This match has to be the kind of match that makes people remember how great Ambrose as a WRESTLER is. If not, I wonder where his future lies as a big time player.

I'm so happy that AJ has gotten as over as he is. His entrance brought Dallas UP! It was a great thing. These guys do have a very good chemistry and their matches are generally fantastic. Now they have all the plunder imaginable so THIS SHOULD BE FUUUUN! The match begins with wild brawling, Ambrose going nuts on AJ more than the reverse. Then we get a battle to climb the ladder for a spell to put over what this is supposed to be about, and then Ambrose shows us that he's about hurtin' AJ badly by tossing a ladder at his face. AJ proceeds to get murdered until Ambrose looks to climb a massive ladder and crush him through a table but AJ wisely walks away. Ambrose chases and resumes the beating. Things move back to ringside and Ambrose tries for a move off the barricade but is caught in mid air with a dropkick on the floor! Beautiful stuff. This leads to AJ running the show in this match for a while. As always however, the cocky heel gets caught being over-zealous and Ambrose nuts him on the barricade and slams a chair into the face of AJ! This is quite the pinball match; it is a back and forth spot war and you have little time to register what has happened last. It is much like a wild, final boss fight in some video game where it doesn't matter how you beat them, JUST BEAT THEM! In other words, it was great to watch but lacked a ton of psychology per se. Ambrose throws a ladder from the ring at AJ's face and I lose my mind! These men hate themselves but I love watching their hatred! AJ responds with a chair shot to the back like a total dick. Eye for an eye. Backbreaker onto a chair by AJ now. Ambrose now begins to slowly fight up from underneath, first by simply grimacing and trying to psyche up and it crescendos from there. AJ then sets up chairs facing each other and is given a suplex slam through the chairs by Ambrose! AJ recovers and throws Ambrose into the corner and throw a table with a suplex! Ambrose gets to his feet and puts together a strong comeback complete with a rebound clothesline! Ambrose teases a superplex to the floor but is thwarted with counters. We get back and forth countering until AJ is shit canned over the top to the floor with a back body drop. Ambrose unleashes a GREAT elbow suicida and AJ goes face first into an announce table. Ambrose wants to kill the announce tables and starts throwing shit around. AJ is down prone on a table while Ambrose sets a ladder up ONTO ANOTHER ANNOUNCE TABLE and goes for broke with an elbow drop! Awesome stuff here. Ambrose uses this chance to go for the title and takes enough time to allow AJ to recover and hit a Phenomenal Forearm to bring him down! After this, we get anther race to the belt with both men on a ladder fighting for the gold. The fight falls down to the canvas and both men tease their finishers until Ambrose blocks a Styles Clash with a wild, spinning throw that sends AJ careening into the ladder sickeningly! What a fucking bump. Ambrose slowly crawls up to the gold and AJ grasps his leg desperately until he has him in a powerbomb but finds himself taken over the top with a hurricanrana. Ambrose looks like he tries to skin the cat and fails which was so funny. AJ responds by beating him up and going to the ropes himself. ASAI MOONSAULT REVERSE DDT BY AJ ON THE FLOOR! This man is unparalleled. AJ drags a table into the fray and things seem to be ugly for Ambrose. AJ gets him on the table prone and seems to get a rush of energy, rushing into the ring and hitting a PSYCHOTIC springboard 450 through the table to the floor! Jesus Christ. AJ rolls back into the ring to try for his title belt but we see Ellsworth making his way to the ring. AJ gets distracted and seems to be waiting to murder this little goof. AJ takes no chances and beats the everloving fuck out of him before setting him up for something sinister on the steps. Ambrose levels him with a clothesline and Dirty Deeds on the steps! Ambrose sells his opportunity and makes his slow ascent up to the title. The fans begin to buzz and we see that AJ is on the other side of the ladder making his way up to the title himself. Yet again we have a dog fight on the top and AJ is sent all the way to the floor with a right hand! Ambrose has the title won...AND ELLSWORTH SENDS HIM CRASHING TO THE FLOOR THROUGH TWO TABLES! Dallas loses their shit and Ellsworth signals for AJ to get the win! This is how you progress a storyline, great job SmackDown and more important AJ and Dean. Great match! ****

WWE Roadblock: End of the Line 2016

In the spirit of my newly turned leaf of refusing to write about every waking moment in this fucking whirlwind of a business, I'll be giving my thoughts on only a few of the matches on this card. Forget that pointless shit that Enzo and Rusev are doing, and while the huge news of New Day losing their tag titles is relevant the match wasn't, and that Cruiserweight title match was more of the same with a fantastic ending when Neville went to the darkside while leaving Perkins and champion Swann down like bitches. ALL HAIL THE NEW KING OF CRUISERWEIGHTS!

Sasha Banks(c) vs Charlotte in an Iron Man Match for the RAW Women's Title
This was a very basic match and that's not a bad thing to say. Lots of their usual fair early with back and forth escapes. Finally, as is seemingly the case in all their matches Charlotte out-muscled the smaller Sasha putting her in peril. Then Sasha decided to give Charlotte a goddamn Meteora on the floor. That will never stop making me cringe. Sasha stretches Charlotte in a modified Bank Statement but she won't give. Great crowd reactions during this hold. For the first ten minutes, it was a pretty paint-by-numbers kind of affair but a wild suicida by Sasha at around 19:55 kicked things into a new gear for me. Lots of joshi screaming, and lots of fucking horrendous bumps by Sasha. That woman is fantastic but I worry about her spinal column way too much. Charlotte is really great at playing that evil bitch role and has developed leaps and bounds. These two working together almost exclusively may not be the best thing for business in terms of the storm term vision, but for making them as great as they can be it has done exponential growth. The heat segment in this was very long and the crowd felt pretty flat for the majority of it. Charlotte slaps on a figure four headscissors and slams Sasha around like nothing, screaming about becoming a four time champion and I was loving it! Sasha tried for a flash pin but failed and this lit a spark in her to begin going for broke a bit. There's a bizarre neckbreaker from the corner that leads to a flat near-fall. Sasha fights up and we go into a comeback sequence. Meteora in the corner to a seated Charlotte! Sasha fails at a crossbody and Charlotte finds Natural Selection but it isn't enough! I like how they didn't just do a million falls for the hell of it, making this feel much more important when false finishes came into play. Awesome Diamond Dust inspired Natural Selection for the first fall! The crowd still isn't into it though and that's very disconcerting. Charlotte talks insane shit, saying things like: “iron meets iron right?” Unreal. Sasha is a fighter though and this annoys Charlotte to no end as always. Banks goes into a really odd looking roll up to even things up! Miraculously the crowd finally gets going after that. That roll up acts like the start of a hope spot that ends with one of Charlotte's big boots for a near fall. Charlotte's facials are absolutely great here, as she looks totally insane with panic over the idea of losing this rematch. It's just a shame that the crowd wasn't into this as much as they've been in the past and in my mind that has so much to do with the creative team. Big moonsault by Charlotte fails and Sasha locks in the Bank Statement! Sasha rolls her back into the middle and the crowd erupts as Charlotte taps out! 2-1 now for Sasha. At about 5:15 is finally when Pittsburgh gives a fuck about this whole thing and they are HOT. Both women trade slaps and chops, and Charlotte then clips Sasha's knee in the ropes causing a nasty bump. This of course leads to leg work by Charlotte to soften up the Figure 8. Sasha won't let that happen though and she throws a shot when need be. Sasha gets Charlotte in a cradle off of a toe hold but it can't get a fall. Charlotte then just keeps up that leg work that was started long ago as only 2 minutes remain. Charlotte puts on her dad's Figure Four and Sasha finally rolls into a reversal only for a moment and Charlotte finds herself back in control. Slaps are exchanged as Sasha fights to keep position as the time ticks down to well under one minute. Now 15 seconds and counting! Pittsburg rises as they believe that Sasha will do it...and she taps with 2 seconds remaining leaving us at a tie 2-2. That pretty well murdered the momentum they built and Charlotte starts screaming for overtime. The ref indeed tells Jojo that there will be a sudden death overtime, one fall to a finish! Pittsburgh marks out and so do I. Sasha struggles up to her feet and Charlotte dropkicks the bad knee haha! Great. Bell rings and immediately we get a battle for the Figure 8 but Sasha nearly wins with a roll up! Big suplex leaves Sasha fucked. Another small package by Sasha gets another near fall and Charlotte gets more incensed. Suddenly Sasha starts bleeding and I mean BLEEDING a lot. Her nose seems to have been busted but she fights on, locking on a Bank Statement! Charlotte begins torquing Sasha's bad knee though and somehow she reverses things into a really sloppy Figure Four. Great stuff I say! Sasha, bleeding like a stuck hog begins to reach desperately for the rope break but Charlotte drags her further away into the Figure 8 now! Sasha taps out and the crowd totally dies. Way to book something to death, WWE. Despite the really stupid hot-shoting that's gone on with this title, this was a great match. ****

Kevin Owens(c) vs Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship
Talk about shit booking this match had it. For one, this match should have had Roman as the heel and Owens as the face because Pittsburgh fucking HATED Roman and really just about any crowd does these days. Owens meanwhile is a fantastic wrestler that's been booked horribly as the top guy on RAW since winning the new Universal title. He's felt like a total second-fiddle to this resurgence that Chris Jericho is having as a lovable goof. Most of this show had segments with Owens trying to win over his jilted friend Jericho so he can help him keep the belt. A once intense and confident fighter is now looking like some scared puppy lost in the streets. That's not how a top champion should be. Hell even the World Champion over on SmackDown looks like a goof these days. What is with this new obsession Vince has with booking weak champions? Bizarre.

The match itself was very good. Owens continued his run of starting matches running away which is so great as a heel, but with the horrible booking he's had it doesn't really do him favors. The crowd at least seems to get with it as Roman finally goes out and meets him with right hands and assorted brawling. More Owens stalling and more Roman brawling. Much of the same stuff we see from them all the time. Owens uses a headlock on Roman to get things going and finds himself slammed out of it for a two count. Repeated clotheslines in the corner by Roman until Owens rolls back outside just to be slung into the barricade. Roman then begins to clear the German announce table to be sacrificed by Owens cuts him off and they find themselves back in the ring. Owens gives the heat for a bit until Roman drills him with clotheslines. Owens when all seems lost keeps rolling to the floor in a great bit of strategy, this time having it pay off when he drives Roman throat first into the barricade before slinging him into the steps. Back senton off the steps onto Roman on the floor! That looked rough. Owens can't get the win though and he's got to find increasingly more dangerous ways to put down Roman. Owens slaps on a side headlock and talks shit, even going as far as questioning Roman on why his US title wasn't part of the match. This man is great. Owens turns the headlock into a neckbreaker, and then a flipping leg drop! Shades of his CZW days there but it is only good for a near fall. Owens falls back into the headlock as the anchor of this match and for me I felt it worked well. Owens fails on another back senton though, leaving the door open for Roman's comeback. Roman's comeback isn't long until we get some back and forth striking. German suplex by Owens! That sets up for Owens' cannonball senton but Roman counters with a side kick into the samoan drop for a near fall. It's a shame that Roman isn't more over because he's a great talent. Roman misses a Superman punch and gets drilled with a DDT for a near fall! Owens finally hits the cannonball but Roman no sells and hits a Superman punch for a near fall. Fucking dumb. The crowd even died when he did it. Well if you subtract the large “Roman Sucks” chant that this engendered. Roman of course beats up Owens more, throwing him up on the top turnbuckle but Owens is wise to it, reversing it with elbow strikes but another Superman punch leaves him loopy. Owens no-sells though and nails his always-impressive fisherman's buster from the second rope for a near fall. Owens measures Roman up and goes to the top rope and goes for a swanton but Roman's knees were up. Owens rolls to the floor yet again but Roman hits the Drive-By dropkick along the apron. Owens again rolls away and Roman is suckered into trying another Drive-By which Owens avoids and he nails two superkicks in a row on him. Roman lays prone on the German announce table and Owens hits a frog splash but the table remains so what does Owens do? HIT ANOTHER ONE! SO funny. Roman narrowly misses the count out and Owens hits a frog splash in the ring now for a near fall! Owens tries for another superkick but Roman reverses with a deadlift powerbomb for another near fall. Roman measures Owens up but his spear is met with a knee and a Pop-Up Powerbomb but Roman barely gets a rope break to survive. What an odd move for a babyface you think? I swear WWE is run by Vince Russo sometimes. Then again Russo wouldn't do that, he'd have had Roman escape the pin with a blood bath or something. Owens again goes to the floor and this time he gets his title belt and looks to hit Roman with it but he's nailed with a Spear instead! Both men sell until Jericho finally hits the ring! Owens gets to his feet and eats a Codebreaker! The bells rings and it is announced that Owens wins by DQ. Lance Storm on his Killing the Town podcast with Cyrus commented that he didn't get the rationale of this and lobbied for the finish to be considered a no contest instead. I get his point but in WWE, they've done this same bullshit for so long that I feel that this argument is moot. Jericho smirks, hands Owens his title and they celebrate. ***3/4 despite the dog and pony show finish.

After the match, Rollins comes from the back to even the odds. Owens and Jericho back up to ringside and Owens eats a Spear. Rollins nails Jericho with the Pedigree. Rollins and Reigns tease for a while until they rolls out and clear the Spanish announce table for destruction, obvious shades of The Shield. Roman audible stammers “time to break furniture” into the camera before driving Jericho through the table with Rollins' assist. The focus then turns to Owens who is visibly running to the back with his title but Rollins grabs him as both “heroes” beat on the champion. The action spills over to the English announce table by the stage WCW style. Roman clears the table and now Owens is sent crashing through the table.

Impact Wrestling: Total Nonstop Deletion 12-15-2016

This Broken Matt stuff that TNA has been doing this year has been equal parts bizarre and phenomenal. I think there's not nearly enough credit being given to all involved for how totally out of the box it all has been and while I understand some of the more purist fans hating it I feel that they need to remember that everything has to evolve. It isn't like we're doing the same kind of things in the ring that Strangler Lewis did, or even Hulk Hogan for that matter. For every ECW there's going to be a Global Force (sorry Jeff) or a GWF from back in the early 90's. Chances have to be taken so that evolution in an otherwise stagnant business can occur.

Things start with a “Broken Fake News” segment about a volcanic eruption in Cameron. Itchweeed is interviewed about the insanity and he says he's gotta weed eat before the shit is on. Wacky and wonderful.

Finally we get the proper introduction from Josh Mathews about this whole show emanating from “Camp Hardy” in Cameron. And indeed, we see that there's a fucking CROWD IN HIS REAL BARN with an Impact ring set up. Fucking awesome. Brother Nero and Matt come down to ringside for a promo with Senor Benjamin. The lighting for this thing is horrible but I like that. It makes it feel truly scummy. Matt talks about his usual insanity, and how Cameron is shut down for this massacre tonight. Matt says tonight will be the coming out party for the Broken Universe and that includes King Maxell's IN RING DEBUT? Oh god. Rockstar Spud interrupts the promo and he looks so freaked out by everything. Gold. We then discover that Jeremy Borash is on commentary tonight and I'm very happy. Spud is told he's worthy of deletion and Spud says no one will be deleted! Spud says he's sick of the whole Broken Universe and especially Matt's “greenhorn” son for taking his TV time. I popped huge on that. Spud then admits on national TV that he's less over that Maxell and then says he'll stretch him! This is beautiful shit. Matt then says the match is on! Spud then says he'll “carry him through it, make him look good, and like all other promoters you can push him when I'm gone”. Wow, TNA totally gives no shits about kayfabe eh? That's when Matt says this match now will be No DQ! Maxel rides a goddamn toy car to the ring and gets a HUGE CHANT! This is amazing. Maxel is in the ring and Spud is immediately tased for the Maxel win! It's incredibly edited but still hilarious. Then Disco Inferno is seen watching in the back saying: “thank god it wasn't me this time, hey anyone want to play some poker?” TNA is SLAYING.

Lashley is shown arriving to the house and looking totally disturbed. Then we see Eddie Edwards, the WORLD FUCKING CHAMPION walking out of the woods like a total jabroni. What in the fuck?

More fake news about roads being closed because of this “Tag Team Apocalypto” match tonight. Shane Helms drives up with Andrew Everett and Trevor Lee in the back of his truck. The woman says there's a natural disaster ahead, which prompts Helms to claim he's an expert at that. Oh lord.

The fucking ROCK N' ROLL EXPRESS is walking up to the front door and Matt answers. This is fucking awesome. Ricky Morton says he's here to prove he's the best tag team ever and he wants to be in the Apocalypto. Matt invites them in the house and Ricky says he'll take a beer, then says that “God loves crazy people, he made lots of us”. Bravo sir.

The show cuts to Sienna in the ring, talking about how she wants Rosemary in the ring but we are told she's permanently banned for trying to kidnap the King. Well shit. Sienna then says she'll put up her number one contender's spot against anyone. Vanguard 1 then comes out and we're told he took the challenge? What in the fuck. Finally the ref of all people says he's not even...he let alone a she so fuck off. Vanguard actually DOES and then Sienna says she wants any PERSON to come out. ODB is then shown coming out of her trailer to accept the challenge. Is this 2008? Either way here we go.

ODB vs Sienna
This isn't particularly good or even awful. It's just your standard indy women's match. ODB isn't very good at all and while Sienna is pretty good this just felt horribly flat. Vanguard tries to be the ref and the ref rolls him out as Sienna takes control and the ref counts out ODB. Dumb. *

Helms has his Dynasty in the back with Matt. Helms says he wants his men in the tag match and Matt calls for his scribe, who is actually the PWX announcer from North Carolina. He says someone will be going into the Lake of Reincarnation and it will be appaling. Lee asks what a scribe is like a dork and that's it.

Itchweeed rolls out in a riding mower and what in the fuck am I watching? I feel like all this crazy Hardy shit is all the drug hallucinations they had a few years ago.

Itchweeed vs Chet Sterling
This is a squash with Jeff acting like a crackhead. Really there's nothing more to say about this. Itchweeed manages to fall asleep while putting on a sleeper himself. This takes the cake for dumbest shit in a wrestling ring for me. A table is set up on the floor and Sterling is driven through it with an elbow from the apron. Itchweeed hits a simple elbow and wins. 0 Anythings

Eddie Edwards(c) vs Lashley for the TNA World Championship
This is a rematch from when Eddie won the title. Apparently this is the third match of theirs and both times before Eddie won clean with his finish. That doesn't bode well for the champion.

Lashley beats him up early. Eddie catches him sleeping though for a spell until he's driven down with a cross body of sorts. Lashley sends Eddie sailing under the ropes to the floor in a very nasty fashion but Eddie regroups enough to throw some mean chops before taking a clothesline. Lashley suddenly slings a “fans” down in the crowd and the commentators make a point to remind us that everyone in the building signed waivers. As if that would really mean shit if this was a shoot. Either way, Eddie takes control of the madness. Again however, Lashley brings him down with a clothesline and we're back to square one. Lashley takes a while beating up Eddie in the corner. Eddie then counters things with a Blue Thunder Bomb! Manhattan drop leaves Lashley hurting yet Eddie is countered into snake eyes in the corner. Lashley elects to work on Eddie's arm with an armbar but Eddie wills himself up. Eddie throws a missile dropkick on Lashley from the top! Lashley rushes Eddie and is sent to the floor before being nailed with a suicide dive by Eddie. Eddie hits a shining wizard for only a near fall. Double stomp fails and Lashley lifts him up in a Dominator for a near fall. Lashley plays Roman Reigns and measures him for the Spear but is sent into the corner. Back elbow is countered with an enzugiri on Lashley sitting up top and he spills out to the floor. Eddie goes for a hurricanrana and he's tossed into almost all the “fans” in the crowd. That was a very weird visual regardless that the commentators don't even sell like it's a big deal. Both men now fight all over the building. Lashley Spears Edwards through a wall into the woods! Sweet spot….that apparently just ends the match? Jesus christ this is some dumb shit. **

Tag Team Apocalypto for the TNA Tag Team Championship
The Broken Hardys(c) vs The Helms Dynasty vs The Rock N' Roll Express vs Decay
We get a horribly cheesy vignette about how the fans have to evacuate because of random smoke….yet the match still can go on? So what this says is that TNA gives more of a care about their fans than they do their wrestlers. Suddenly we see Eddie and Lashley fighting, and then a cut to the Hardys and Rock N' Roll shooting fireworks at the heels. The Helms boys get their truck but Matt jumps in the back with Lee and slams his head around like a bastard. Nero says to the ref they have to get up to them and amazingly there is a dirt bike there to ride. This is B-movie horror meets wrestling, so you decide if you love that or hate it. I feel rather mixed myself. Then we see the gates to the compound where tons of random “tag teams” are waiting, visible up front is John Skyler and Corey Hollis from PWX! Good on those guys for getting a cameo even if it means they got killed by Decay...literally. Basically Decay starts killing the jobbers at the gate and then we see Spud, then we see The Bravado Brothers! They're in suits talking about how they['re world famous. Man this is great. The Hardys and Helms Dynasty fight in front of an obviously fake store front. The ugly Ducklings of PWX fame come in also and get killed. A train drives by the Hardys and Helms brawling...who knows why. The Bravados finally sneak around Decay and into the compound. More death from Decay on jobbers, complete with Abyss bashing someone's head with a rock. Someone's been watching Lucha Underground. Spud says his partner is here and he's huge, and out comes fucking 'Swoggle. Hilarious. Lee and Everett look to get the win but Hardy somehow summons his BOAT to interfere for him. Helms Dynasty beats up the boat...this is real. Nero fires up and beats up both of Helms' guys leaving Matt and Shane alone. Matt then throws him into the Lake of Reincarnation. Shane comes out and the Helms Dynasty becomes 3 Count! Holy 2000! Helms says they aren't Shannon and Evan, they're better and this leads to Helms getting double superkicked by his men and falls back into the lake. Another random ring is set up by the “volcano” and we get Hardys vs Rock N' Roll! Basic 80's tag stuff ensues with double irish whips into one another and such. Good old school schtick man. For old dudes they didn't look bad either. More Lashley and Eddie brawling. Bravados keep fighting the Helms guys and they stumble upon a ref shitting in a portapotty. Standing moonsault on the ground by Everett like a moron. Lee is sent face first with a catapult into the building. Lee and Everett rush inside but the Bravados are locked out and the ref says they'll be DQ'd if they don't open. The arena is totally smoked out but the heels take control! Morton and Nero are in skylifts suddenly and we're told it is Night of the Skywalkers. They lock up IN THE AIR! Ok, now this is awesome. Morton and Nero work being immobile in skylifts greatly while Matt and Robert do normal shit in the ring. Morton bites Nero's fingers before dragging him over his lift! Matt then rolls out and sends Morton higher up and says he's stuck up there. Morton looks legit pissed, GREAT. We go back to Bravados vs Helms guys. They do good indy stuff in the empty arena. Nero does a wild Swanton off his lift but Robert moves! Matt still nails Twist of Fate and beats Robert while Morton is still high in his lift. Spud and 'Swoggle are in the empty arena and are looking to sneak up. 'Swoggle grabs a chair nails the Bravados in the backwhile Spud gets the pin. 'Swoggle quickly turns on his partner and hits a frog splash before leaving Spud to be pinned himself. More random Lashley and Eddie brawling that looks lackluster. Morton is shown again and randomly we see Road Warrior Animal laughing at him. Decay is shown again at the gates and we see DCC show up with tons of back up. Decay levels all the jabronis and Storm finally shows his face and the random guy with a truck from the first video shows up to be jobbed out. Storm gets pissed and walks out. Wow. Random fighting with random guys at the top of the “volcano” and a huge explosion happens. Hurricane Helms comes from the Lake of Reincarnation with some obvious superpowers. Jesus what is this stuff? Decay and the Helms boys finds where the Hardys are and the beatdown begins. Decay focus on Nero and Matt is cornered by Lee and Everett. Nero eats a chokeslam in the ring by Abyss, who then grabs Janice the barbed wire board. Nero comes from behind with a fireworks cannon but gets low blowed by Crazzy Steve before he can light it. He gets beat up but Abyss is shot at by Vanguard 1 with fireworks! Abyss shoots back with some of his own. Hurricane saves Matt when Lee and Everett go to to bury Matt. Matt takes the pin and a grave is made for Lee and Everett apparently. Matt then says that “even a man with triple H's in his name could appreciate how we buried this young, up-and-coming talent” FUCKING GREAT. Lashley makes 'Swoggle look useless and eats a crossbody by Eddie from a balcony. A massive Hardy symbol then lights on fire around Decay and Nero as they fight inside. This is a really wild visual to say the least. How did someone not die here? Matt joins the fray. All men involved manage to get out of the maze of fire and Abyss tries to takes out Matt in the ring with Janice. Matt takes Janice the board and drives it into Abyss' stomach. Steve and Nero fight up on the “volcano” and Steve is gives a Twist of Fate and falls into the “volcano” and is shown being shot into the ring magically uninjured. Interesting and that's it apparently as the Broken Universe goes wild! As a spectacle this is world class, as a match I couldn't begin to rate it. At the end, Reby announces she's pregnant again. Well congrats Hardy clan! You're doing some wild things.

Chris Hero vs Dick Togo, EVOLVE 74, 12-10-2016

Togo is a god. Hero is a god. This means this was a war. Hero immediately starts us off with a claim that he's the best of all time just to let us all know he's the prick here. New York responds by popping for him of course. There's a lovely chain sequence that ends when Hero picks up Togo and simply sits him on the top turnbuckle. This leads to a stupid chant. More good grappling with Hero getting a cravat until Togo takes him down with a heel pick and starts giving him hurts with a headlock. I love the simplicity early on, it's just a simple grappling battle between two of the tops in the game in the past 30 years. Hero utilizes an inverted ankle lock like a MASTER really getting reactions from the sick angles he put Togo's foot in. Togo powers on though and just will not be stopped. Hero tries to sucker-kick Togo off a shoulder block spot but Togo is wise to it and makes him pay for a bit until he finds himself eating sole. Hero uses this opening to crush the poor, smaller man with a back senton like a REAL MEAN DUDE. Hero shakes his head in disgust at the idiots in the crowd in New York trying to be real cute. Hero and Togo take the fun to the floor and we get some SICK shots out of it. This was very much Hero playing the vicious man obsessed with beating the legend by any means necessary and it came across perfectly. Hero tried for his piledriver and Togo was smart to it early on, which lent itself down the road. Togo unleashes a GREAT dropkick in this one as well. Togo masterfully uses Hero's own momentum against him and finds himself locking on a crossface which led to a shift in the match and a NASTY baseball slide dropkick followed by a rolling senton to the floor! Togo is a mad man for his age. Togo's efforts were met with a really insane rolling elbow following other wild strikes by the guru Hero. Togo then was drilled on his head with a Hero piledriver after being weakened and broken by strikes. Beautiful storytelling there. However it wasn't enough to get the win. Togo flashes up with some pin attempts, eats another piledriver, and yet he still pops up to hit a seated missile dropkick! Hero though is too tough for Togo it seems and he's back to his feet the second Togo's up to the top. Hero teases a second-rope piledriver but Togo fights back to hit a beautiful tornado DDT from the second! Hero survives though and on we go towards the really awesome finishing stretch. Seek this out. It even has a Pedigree kick out at one spot, so why waste any more time?! ****

EVOLVE 75 12-11-2016
Jeff Cobb vs Fred Yehi


This is a beautiful mat exhibition above all else. These two start us off with a sequence right out of your latest NCAA national wrestling meet with amazing switches and reverses seeing Yehi put over like an equal to Cobb's Olympic acumen. Cobb takes his back though and rolls him on his shoulders yet a rope break keeps things alive. This was very shoot-style and fans of the BattlArts style will love this match. Yehi rides Cobb's back for some time while he tries to put some hooks in for a Rear Naked Choke or something but Cobb stands up with him and tries to pull Yehi's arm off. Innovative defense. Yehi has quite the scowl I must say. He also has a pretty swank guillotine choke but Cobb happens to have the swankiest of strength and he slings Yehi around like a bitch. A GODDAMN FLAWLESS DROPKICK BY MASSIVE COBB. Watching Cobb throw people around is a thing of beauty, like some kind of graceful Gary Albright or something. The reaction from the crowd when Cobb hits his standing moonsault is worth the watch on this alone. ***1/2

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Battle of Los Angeles 2016 Night One Special Edition!

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RASSLE TRIBUNE SPECIAL EDITION: PWG BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES 2016 REPORT

I've fallen in love with PWG in the last few years. One of the big reasons for this new found love is their annual Battle of Los Angeles, a massive tournament that has expanded and evolved over the years and contains the best “free agent” talent this planet has to offer. This year's fair was heavily hyped as usual and with names like the Cody Rhodes, Pentagon Jr., Marty Scurll, and countless others you can see why. In some ways this tournament has become the American G1 in the sense of being a heavily sought after weekend every year. What makes it even more beautiful is PWG's booking; simply you never know where things could go.

Marty Scurll vs Pentagon Jr. in the First Round
This is pretty much the match I would imagine in my head that these two would have. Fun lucha shit by Pentagon, and awesome counters and mat based stuff from Scurll along with his usual shtick. At one point the bottom rope snaps during this match and adds some character to this affair that it was lacking. Not the greatest match ever but a fun PWG style sprint. Pentagon Jr. snapping his fingers back after Scurll's finger snapping was gold and led awesomely into the finish. ***

Jeff Cobb vs Ricochet in the First Round
This match blew my fucking mind when the graphic came up. Jeff Cobb is the kind of worker that is almost impossible to explain, you just have to see him go. He's a massive man in the same ilk as Gary Albright from the Japan 90's days but coupled with the athleticism of Rey Mysterio in his heyday. Ricochet is known to anyone in the last few years that pays attention to things as probably the smoothest man in wrestling today. These two men do what they do best and that's some really great stuff. Cobb manhandles Ricochet early. Ricochet counters with quick kicks and elusive counters. Ricochet pulls out a no-touch high jump moonsault plancha on Cobb about half way across the fucking building. Madman. Then he kicks his head off for a bit until Cobb is tired of his shit and deadlifts him into a spinning belly to back for just a two count. Cobb counters a headkick into a Tazplex so that my 10 year old heart flutters. Ricochet plays the role of the persevering underdog to Cobb's monstrous offense. This is much like the first match, simply fun and fast paced 'rasslin. Cobb eats tons of european uppercuts and forearms and yet he still slings Ricochet around like a child. Ricochet pulls off a powerbomb and follows up with a Phoenix Splash for a near fall! Ricochet looks absolutely disheveled and hits a Benadriller...FOR TWO! Ricochet decides he's got to go for broke again and goes for his 630 Splash but no one is in the pool. Cobb from behind nails a gutwrench, spinning german for just two. Cobb then tries for his reverse powerslam but is rolled up by Ricochet for the flash pin! Really good stuff. ***

John Hennigan vs Matt Sydal
The Battle of WWE Rejects hits Reseda. Hennigan makes his PWG debut. Both men start slow, Hennigan especially who plays to the crowd. Sydal tries to get the ball rolling and Hennigan stunts the momentum immediately for a bit until Hennigan goes behind and gets a headlock on. Sydal fights out and we get some standard WWE-style chain wrestling. In a great moment, both men throw leg kicks at the exact same time and limp like goofs. I loved that. A test of strength is teased but Hennigan just leg kicks the shit out of Sydal and they exchange said kicks back and forth. Both come to a cease fire and we're back to square one. A handshake leads to a staredown and more leg kicks while still holding the handshake. Hurricanrana takeover by Sydal. Then we get some good back and forth stuff. Very basic but effective I'd say. Nice backbreaker into a russian legsweep combo by Hennigan. Hennigan then does some really shit rolling senton that looks like a horrid elbow drop. Thus, we finally get into Hennigan's dumb offense. He's like a nu-age RVD with the wacky offense. Sydal decides he wants to be a good worker and throws out a weird russian legsweep into an odd Haas of Pain variation. Sydal works the left leg of Hennigan after this for a spell. That leg work is completely ignored though of course and we get more spots. WAY more spots, including Hennigan's rolling neckbreaker from WWE that was once his finish. That is completely kicked out of though and Sydal hits his Ode to Alicia Fox in the corner and it looks really nasty. This was good but I wouldn't even put it near the previous matches. I must admit though that the standing Spanish Fly will never not be awesome. Solid but just kind of there for me. **1/2

Fenix vs Will Ospreay
Seeing this on paper made me incredibly excited about how this would go. Both men are well known as two of the best high flyers in all of the world. This is quite the really good display of what both are capable of. Ospreay hits a perfect Sasuke Special. Reseda loses their shit in turn. Fenix immediately baseball slides once thrown in the ring and hits a Corkscrew Spaceman Dive! That was absolutely crazy shit. Ospreay somehow finds himself back in control and traps Fenix's arm with his leg and tries for the Nigel McGuinness bridging stretch but Fenix ain't having it. Some Ospreay slaps a sleeper on because PSYCHOLOGY. Fenix immediately Pele Kicks out but Ospreay is back on the hold. They do this for a spell and it isn't an awful spot really. Finally Ospreay is kicked into the corner and is caught rushing Fenix. We get a Rolling Thunder Frogsplash into a standing moonsault for a two count by Fenix. These boys love their moves. Ospreay and Fenix then decide it is time to kick in each other's faces for a while until Fenix nails his Double Jump Frankensteiner on Ospreay from the second rope. It isn't the finish of course. Double headkicks and double kip-ups. This is as video game as a match gets. Ospreay LANDS ON HIS FEET OFF A HURRICANRANA! Standing Shooting Star into a bizarre, middle rope Phoenix Splash thing for a near fall. This is awesome if only for the menagerie of moves. It all becomes a blur after a while with counter after counter, as both men jockey for position on the top rope to try and end this madness. Fenix looks to go for another hurricanrana and it's a Spanish Fly that BOTH MEN LAND ON THEIR FEET OFF OF. They stare down and finally Ospreay nails a standing Spanish Fly for a near fall. Ospreay goes for his corkscrew kneeling enzugiri but Fenix counters and locks on a Dragon Sleeper. Ospreay fights but is drilled with a fucking Greetings from Asbury Park derivative. It of course is not the finish and we get MOAR MOVEZ! Fenix does unnecessary leaping into a 450 that misses and Ospreay connects with his corkscrew enzugiri and finally hits the handspring diamond cutter for the win. This is really fantastic insanity. ***3/4

Tommy End vs Zack Sabre Jr.
This is gonna be perfection in a ring I hope. Tommy End of course is in his Farewell Tour shortly before his most recent WWE signing. ZSJ is the reigning PWG World Champion and perhaps the best “free agent” talent on the planet today, especially technically. These guys really work this thing early as something legit with simple grappling. They go at it, get to the ropes, break, and go at it some more trying to find a weakness like when wrestling is at its best. They throw some taunting leg kicks until things go back to the ground and it isn't long until ZSJ has End tied up in a knot. End perseveres and shows that he's damn good grappling also and we find ourselves in a stalemate. We go into some pro wrestling transitions that show no man an advantage that ends with End throwing a headkick on a downed Sabre who is too smart to it and things stalemate again. Phenomenal transitions. End eventually does get his kicks in and Sabre absolutely feels them. He takes some blistering chest kicks but answers with some rough european uppercuts. End just straight kicks him in the fucking mouth for a two count. Sabre catches End in mid air and starts to work on his left arm with vicious stomps and joint holds. Sabre might be the best in the biz at working a bodypart, simply because he might be one of the ONLY workers today that even does such a thing. He cranks on End's wrist and elbow like a really evil fucker and End sells it like he's taken a bullet. End fights to his feet and throws forearms but that gives Sabre a chance to snatch his arm and drive it down on his own shoulder to bring End down again. Sabre begins to pick him apart on the mat with kicks and again, focuses his attack on that left arm. End isn't going to die though and keeps fighting up like the babyface he is. He starts to throw a wild flurry of precise strikes that puts Sabre on his ass. Reseda responds with adulation. End rushes in the corner with a forearm and takes to the top. Sabre, in a stroke of genius, rushes him and headbutts his left shoulder and End takes a spill over onto the floor. Sabre decides he'll stomp that arm into the apron like a true dick. Sabre takes his eye off the ball for one second and End unleashes a fucking ridiculous moonsault off the second turnbuckle to the floor that brings Reseda to their feet. Holy fucking christ this is good. Both men struggle to their feet and it is End that runs up the apron and delivers a great knee strike on Sabre, rolling him into the ring and hitting a top rope double stomp for only two! Sabre looks fucked while he holds his ribs and End still grasps his arm. Sabre wants more, and End says sure with a fucking mean chest kick. Sabre isn't done though and wants even MORE. What a psychopath. Sabre responds with a running kick to the arm and a european uppercut but End floats another rush into a Lance Storm rolling single crab. Sabre reverses it into a roll up for two and a headbutt to the cut into a modified brainbuster. End is all loopy and Sabre is hurting himself. End unleashes a wild flurry of incredible offense to get us hoping he will get it done. German suplex only gets two though and Sabre counters by catching End's left, bad, arm into a grapevine as he tries for his other arm but End reverses it. Sabre counters him as well and body scissors the man but is dropped on his head with a brainbuster for his troubles. End fires up and throws shots until both men, again cancel out with headkicks. Sabre tries for his soccer kick but End reverses into a roll up for two. More counters follow until Sabre drops End on his head with a vicious half and half suplex and both men are down as Reseda explodes like crazy. Sabre goes back to End's arm as they're both on the mat and he's trying to rip it apart but End is fighting. Leaping triangle by Sabre but End gets out of it with a rough kick. Both men throw really great strikes at each other again and again after it seems they've given each other all they have. End connects with his spinning high kick but can't find the double stomp. Eventually Sabre locks on his Octopus Hold and hooks both arms so that End can't escape and it is all over. ****

Chris Hero vs Jushin Thunder Liger
My god, if anything could top that Sabre vs End match on this first night it is this. Two wily veterans that are only better and better with age. Hero could easily be considered a front runner for Wrestler of the Year this year with his matches so far and Liger's stood the test of time as a true great in history. They actually work the opening handshake which is great and gets a pop. WORKING IS SO GREAT SOMETIMES. It is Hero taking over immediately, telling the obvious story that he's the bigger man by far. Liger goes low and puts Hero down on the mat and stretches him like hell. Hero reverses and both men get in the ropes. Liger tries for a shoulder block and it does nothing. Hero mocks him and I know that soon, he will pay for it. More shoulder block fails and more mocking. Hero back elbows out of a standing switch and Liger avoids Hero who crashes over the top. Liger feigns a dive and does his Liger pose to a pop. Hero isn't happy about this. Hero comes in and kicks Liger's teeth in the corner. He's again mocking Liger and this is great. Liger catches him sleeping and nails the Shotei! Liger's up top and Hero rolls away from him at the last moment. ROLLING BIG BOOT BY HERO KILLS LIGER. Damn that was great. Hero has found his niche as a pseudo douche that is oddly loveable. Liger is just so awesome in every way and looks great here as the undersized killer. These guys make everything looks fantastic here, especially their striking. Liger hits a really awesome brainbuster to neutralize a Hero onslaught. Hero doing the sumo stomping around is also a thing of beauty because he truly is one massive motherfucker. LIGER NO SELLS A LIGER BOMB AND WE HAVE GOTTEN SERIOUS. Rolling Elbow by Hero tells him to fuck off along with a skull smashing elbow from the back into the base of the skull. Liger is doneso. Amazing affair. ****

Adam Cole and The Young Bucks vs Dalton Castle, Kyle O'Reilly, and Bobby Fish

Fish and O'Reilly are in “Boys” regailia and I AM MARKING OUT. Dalton Castle is one of the best characters out there and a great worker. The Bucks have their Meltzer Face tights on so you know this will be a special one. Dalton and Cole start us off and Cole does the preening gimmick before telling him to shove it. Fuck yeah! Dalton backs Cole up and PREENS like no other. The Bucks are fucking livid. I rejoice. Cole backs Dalton up now before doing his “Adam Cole Baybay” taunt. Dalton jumps to the second before O'Reilly and Fish get on their knees to act as steps for him to get down. The Bucks and Cole charge all three and get beat down. Nick Jackson becomes legal and tries for a top rope move but O'Reilly and Fish distract him and nut him on the top turnbuckle. Things break down and Matt tries for something but Fish and O'Reilly blow him back with their hand fans! Awesome spot. All three men are on the floor so that Dalton and his “Boys” can strut and feign a dive. Great bullshit stuff. Dalton finally hits a nice suicida through the second and bottom ropes. Fish and Cole finally calm things down and Fish beats the snot out of Cole. Snap suplexes, stomps, the whole shooting match. In comes O'Reilly and of course you know these two are good to go. O'Reilly elects to play the Memphis card and do some bullshit rather than beat Cole light a savage as usual. Cole keeps putting him down and O'Reilly gets up selling like a goof and posing. O'Reilly is shockingly good at being a weirdo like Dalton. Dalton himself is now tagged in and Cole gets an ab bite...yes, he bit the man's mid section. The fans popped if that makes it any better. Dalton and Cole did some really fun stuff for a second before Fish is back in the fold. O'Reilly tries to fan down Cole on a sunset flip from Fish but Matt Jackson comes in with a pretty weak superkick. Fish gets beaten up and the bad guys are back in it. Nick Jackson comes in to stomp a mudhole in Fish in the corner. BRONCO BUSTER OH GOD. Fish takes the heat for a while and becomes the brunt of a longstanding joke between The Bullet Club. It's alright, but the usual fare. Fish is whipped into the corner and his mask flies off. Cole takes it and puts it on, strutting around like a really poor drag queen. It was really fantastic to see though. The Bucks come in and do their tandem dropkick to the dome on Fish. There is some miscommunication between The Bucks and Cole though and Fish takes advantage….until Cole and Matt superkick Fish's opponents to the floor. Fish manages to come back with a t-bone suplex into another opponent which is awesome. Dalton tags in and cleans house like a fucking machine here. He proceeds to throw all three of his opponents around like ragdolls with a series of suplexes of various kinds. Cole and Dalton are apparently legal (a common puzzle in many PWG tags of all sorts) and it doesn't matter anyways when The Bucks come in and clean house themselves, isolating Dalton. Cole puts down Dalton with a Shining Wizard but it isn't enough. In comes Matt now and all three members of the BC team walk over to O'Reilly and Fish on the apron and spit on them. Dalton shitcans people and Nick's alone in the ring. He takes a back suplex and in comes O'Reilly with the tag, Fish with the assist. Shit is getting real, and The Bucks retreat! Cole poses and does the Hogan slow turn into O'Reilly and Fish who proceed to whip his ass. It's a great spot. Matt tries both men and gets beat down also. Nick now comes in to try his luck and gets taken out by all three men, Dalton finalizing the onslaught with a wheelbarrow bridging suplex for a near fall. Things get blurry as all six men do about every move in their movesets and it's fun but sort of numbing. ReDragon get low blowed by The Bucks and Dalton fires up, knowing he's all alone. Cole ends up hitting the second rope Canadian Destroyer on Dalton after the numbers are too much. Fish and Dalton are held up in tandem tombstones and Nick springboards into a DOUBLE MELTZER DRIVER OMG?!?!?! Fun match. ***1/2

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Rassle Tribune #4: Things Are Weird

So I didn't give a shit this month. I can't lie to anyone, it was very difficult for me to pump this issue out because of various factors. The main one being my “real” job increasing in workload and obviously that affects my wrestling dorking out activities. Also, I just didn't feel like watching shitty WWE stuff. I had heard through the grapevine that RAW was only good for Goldberg's return and that SmackDown was just more of the same mixed bag of bullshit in its own right. So, I was a slacking bastard for quite some time and focused on other wrestling studies. THESE BE THOSE!

Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles(c) for the TNA X-Division Championship, Turning Point 2005
Don't let anyone fool you people, Samoa Joe was the fucking man a decade ago. AJ Styles ruled too but he always has. Joe brings all that vicious goodness that we've come to love from him using mean kicks and elbows. Not to mention his insane, aerial repertoire. AJ starts this match hot as hell backing Joe in the corner but he eats a mean beating quickly. This is one of the classic beat downs in wrestling history and it is exactly what should have happened. Joe had only been in TNA a few months and undefeated, he'd been built towards this match as being the unstoppable killer against the man that created the X-Division; AJ Styles. So this is the amazing story of the king of the castle being embarrassed in front of his people. Joe unleashes a facewashing boot into the corner that sends AJ's facial expression into the front row and said front row LOSES THEIR MINDS as if they saw a shooting. It was glorious. AJ sells like a damn beast here and I suddenly realize he doesn't get enough love for this. While I can't say this is perfect, it is pretty goddamn great though. I almost love this match more because it isn't technically flawless, it feels like a complete struggle for both men at the end. While Joe dominates most of the match, when AJ fires up he does so in big ways that make you believe he has the monster Joe hurt. We get an early showing of AJ's insane high jump plancha and he hits Joe perfectly. Joe crumbles like a sack of shit and AJ gives him a “Phenomenal Forearm” to the back of the neck like a real douchebag yet the man will not die. Simply put, these men wrestle like they hate each other and it is really great to see. This re-watch saddens me that neither man was in WWE at this point in their careers because they were world class, not that they aren't now they are just older. AJ has his mouth destroyed and he bleeds like a motherfucker. AJ somehow manages to hoss up big Joe for a powerbomb but again, he will not stay down. Joe turns AJ completely inside out with a clothesline. Then he throws out more wacky moves and AJ no-sells because suddenly the Impact Zone becomes the Tokyo Dome. It is still really choice. AJ answers with his famous Pele Kick. Things look like they're going his way but it isn't long until Joe makes AJ suffer for his previous sins. This is highly recommended in every way. ****1/2

FloSports has announced that they have agreed to a five year deal with EVOLVE Wrestling, as well as other sister companies of EVOLVE including SHINE, Dragon Gate USA's vault, and FIP. The deal is set to start with the next SHINE event on November 4th. The deal begins a new venture for FloSports, FloSlam and the talks are reportedly not ending with the EVOLVE deal. This comes completely by surprise considering that WWE has been rumored negotiating internally on a tier system for the WWE Network that would include independent wrestling content. This adds a lot of intrigue into where the business is going television wise not just for indies, because honestly indies aren't really ever going to get a good TV deal let alone any TV deal at all, but for everyone. It is no secret that WWE's TV viewership is declining and no one else in the wrestling world even comes near them in terms of that. WWE has invested more and more money into their network also, which would indicate that at least someone with power in the company knows that TV is not going to be as viable going forward with viewership not being addressed in some way. When Goldberg's massive return draws a 3.0 approximate rating, it is clear that TV just isn't what it once was for wrestling. Even during the worst days of WCW, they would regularly draw 2.5's. Now RAW dances around that number often and SmackDown Live is much less. I don't think that this kind of thing is in need of a widespread panic yet I do think WWE needs to address how their product is put on said TV. When your product looks exactly like it has for nearly 20 years, why would anyone think there's something to pay attention to? When Austin got huge in the late 90's, the whole WWF production evolved around him and there was an enhanced feeling that this was a new era. It was, and in turn things LOOKED different to fit that changing era and the fans ate it up. Sure, sets have changed and a few ropes changed colors but that isn't enough. There needs to be a different approach to where they go, and I'm not the Einstein here to give that solution. If you've got all these great minds in wrestling history at your disposal on a given day, I'd sure hope that they could come up with something themselves.

Being desensitized to the wrestling business today is very easy to do. Despite having arguably the highest level of in-ring talent that the world has ever seen, the booking and “vision” that is present all across the world is quite dim for the most part. This ongoing TNA saga only gets bleaker by the day, now with court documents being released showing the world just how low rent and disastrous TNA has become to themselves and sadly their talent. New Japan is riding high at the moment going towards their annual Wrestle Kingdom in January but one can't help but notice that there's a desperate need for more young talent that can be a stable part of the promotion rather than a passer-by. Ring of Honor seems to be finding their groove in their working relationship with said New Japan, all the while trying to carve their own niche here in the States on TV but the TV wrestling business is very bad, even for the mighty WWE.

WWE's ratings are at all-time low levels as of late and things don't seem to be rising any time soon. So much can be blamed for this and least of all would be the talents themselves. There are so many talents across the board that put their all into the product and have really good, sometimes even great, matches but when your booking is as stormy as the stock market you can't really keep a foothold as a big star. Few have managed to slip through the filter that WWE has today with completely scripted, bullshit television that seems to lead in a big circle. A snake eating itself for eternity, or at least until Vince McMahon dies or realizes that wrestling just isn't the same cash cow it has been in the past.

WWE RAW 10-17-16

First and foremost, Owens got a BIG pop to open the show as he walked to the ring along with his friend Chris Jericho. These two are goddamn money and it is that simple. Just as I'm loving Owens' pop, we get a huge Y2J chant and Owens, the master, tells them to shut up so he can talk. Owens says he knows for certain that Foley hates him and that's why he made his title match a Hell in a Cell match. Denver is AWESOME tonight and right off the bat! Jericho regales us with his amazing “quiet” mantra and I die. This man has written the book on how to stay over forever. Jericho proceeds to put over HIAC, talking about how fucked up it is to make these men even compete in it. Owens says he is the thinking man's champion and so he isn't worried about Hell in a Cell scarring him. Owens fires up about how he's going to maul Rollins. Let these men beat each other to smithereens! Jericho then goes into how he was robbed out of making the HIAC a triple threat. Jericho then reminds us of all his big World title wins and at one point says he “bet we forgot about that one”. Interesting. Jericho finally tells us that the official is ON THE LIST! This gets the pop of the early night. Owens then finishes things up stating he will retire Rollins, who somehow finds his way to the ring. The fans love him in Denver. The crowd erupts in a Rollins chant that actually makes Seth stop his promo before it even can start. Rollins mentions that Jericho needs to add his terrible scarf on The List, as well as his tattoos, creepy moustache, and his tights, then calling him Sparkle Crotch. Oh god. The fans of course turn this absurd shit into a chant. Jericho warns Rollins that while he isn't on the list, he WILL be! Rollins runs down Jericho and Owens' friendship and mentions that Owens let Jericho get laid out. Owens says that it isn't the case and simply, Rollins has no friends. Owens states that they both agreed that Owens would stay strong and Rollins uses that to pick at Jericho. This is a good segment, two big thumbs upward. Rollins says REMATCH FROM THE LAST 9393 WEEKS and before that, Rollins asks what Owens will do; stay or leave. Jericho is thinking leave, yet Owens wants to stay. Both men bicker and Jericho tries to smarten this young'n up. Jericho says he has to remind everyone how badass he is so he wants to go it alone. Owens says he'll be there in spirit and we get hugging.

Seth Rollins vs Chris Jericho
Cole conveniently tells us that Foley happened to have already made this match. This is your usual Rollins vs Jericho match which just means it is good but not great. Jericho is fantastic for a guy his age and Rollins is just plain fantastic. How some people look at Jericho as broken down and useless is fucking insane to me. Then again those are probably workrate drones so it doesn't really matter anyways. Either way this is a strong anchor for the first hour work wise. Rollins using the Blockbuster is so fucking great to me, it always forces me to recall Buff Bagwell in all his silly glory. Shitty roll ups remind me of Jericho and yet Jericho always redeems himself. This is pretty much the exact same match they've had for months now. As things seem sealed for Rollins, Owens' music plays and as Rollins watches Owens come to the ring, he decides to go ahead and murder Jericho with a plancha off the top followed by a springboard knee lift. He looks to have things wrapped up but Jericho reverses his Pedigree into the Walls of Jericho! Rollins tries all he can to get to the ropes and the fans will him on yet Owens pulls the rope away from him and the ref catches him. Jericho is forced to break his hold and he's angry. Rollins rolls him through and we get a counter fest. Rollins counters a Codebreaker into a Pedigree for the win. ***

Lita sits down with both Charlotte and Sasha Banks, starting with Charlotte first. Lita puts over the history of this first ever women's Hell in a Cell and asks Charlotte how she will prepare. Charlotte says she isn't preparing, she was born to succeed and she also adds that the reason she's one of the first women in this kind of match is simply because she's Charlotte Flair. Awesome. Charlotte says she's one of the best superstars regardless of gender in WWE and Lita goes into how Charlotte was a bitch to Sasha. Charlotte says she's durable and Sasha isn't, she's not good enough to get the upper hand on her. Charlotte is asked about Sasha being in her hometown for the match and Charlotte says she doesn't need any fans to cheer her on. She is simply superior and that is all she needs. Solid heel promo by Charlotte, who's promos just months ago were god awful.

Shining Stars and Titus O'Neil vs The Golden Truth and Mark Henry
This is the epitome of a pointless match. Neither guy in this match is necessarily important in any way, and in fact guys like Goldust and Henry are just there to teach which is good considering that Titus is fucking horrid. Primo and Epico are good in the ring, they just have NO HEAT and never seem to get a good gimmick to work with. Goldust takes the heat from all of his opponents and is awesome. R-Truth takes the hot tag and comes in like dynamite on Titus. It's really great and in come the Shining Stars simply to take bumps from all the people in Denver. Titus stumbles around a while and finally eats a World's Strongest Slam for the win. *

Owens and Jericho are backstage arguing. Jericho yells at Owens, almost calling him a stupid idiot but stops his statement. They keep yelling and Stephanie breaks it up. Stephanie tries to get them focused on beating Rollins, and most of all beating Shane on SmackDown at Survivor Series. She makes the statement that Jericho and Owens are her “two generals” in the big match against SmackDown. Great way to build towards that.

Sheamus does his usual entrance and Cesaro is behind him on Facebook Live. This is such a fucking great gimmick because they hate each other. The New Day gets a MEGA POP from Denver and why wouldn't they? THESE MEN! Denver thinks New Day Rocks apparently and again, doesn't everyone? I'm sure there are a few brain dead people though. Big E says Sheamus must be a mile high if he thinks he will beat him tonight. Great move. Xavier then says Trump and Clinton get along better than Sheamus and Cesaro. New Day puts over Cesaro, then Kofi mentions that he is still better than Cesaro anyways. We get a shame chant which is great. Xavier then states that for 420 days, they have LEGALLY been the WWE World Tag Team Champions and I DIE! These men!

Sheamus vs Big E
This is an old fashioned hoss battle. There's not a whole lot more to say other than that. They hit each other super hard and it is very fun to watch. Sheamus is one of those guys that is underrated simply because of booking and a lack of a strong character to build upon. That's not a good thing to say about a former multi-time World Champion. This gets good marks from me. The only strange thing about this was Cesaro trying all he could to distract his partner by jumping into the crowd and shit. Sheamus mostly ignored him until the end of the match when Cesaro's bullshit caught up with him. He stole Cesaro's phone and walked to the ring and Cesaro wouldn't take it. Sheamus is rolled up and beaten and Cesaro smirks on. **1/2

We get a vignette of Goldberg's title win against Hogan from the Georgia Dome in 1998. God, why can't we have that kind of hype around wrestling again? Oh yeah because TV isn't what it used to be and neither is wrestling. Fuck.

Bo Dallas vs Neville
We get two former NXT Champions COLLIDING! Bo whips on Neville early while Curtis Axel is on the outside being a dick. The fans naturally don't really care about this at all and with Neville it is a shame. It's all Bo in this one, who used shitty back elbows for most of his heat. Neville finally takes over with rapid kicks to the mid-section. Bo couldn't find an answer and set himself up for Neville scaling up to the top. Bo smartly rolls to the floor and he eats an Asai Moonsault for his troubles. Bo continues to run away like a bitch. Neville continues to do tons of flips. This was a pretty good midcard match that Bo shockingly wins. What the fuck is going on in the WWE midcard? **

Bo attacks dumb Axel and that doesn't mean a damn thing. I guess I should be happy they're at least trying something with these two but especially with Axel, perhaps they're long gone.

Bayley vs Dana Brooke
The saga continues! This RAW women's is not much better than SmackDown in terms of depth and this match proves it. Bayley is amazing in about every way, especially selling but Dana Brooke is far from being in her league. Dana seems to really try but she just isn't good in the ring. She looks very wooden and lacking any real emotion. They do a really camp spot with Dana taking a turnbuckle to her face and she flails around like a moron. Bayley decides to sell like a beast and thank god because Dana's offense isn't good at all. Dana gives us a chinlock of DOOM and I sigh in boredom. Thank god Bayley fights and makes it mean something but it isn't long until Dana has yet another dreaded chinlock on. Bayley yet again fights it and we get some horrible corner work, complete with a completely pointless handstand...hamstring flail? Dana is awful. Bayley tries to make this matter but it isn't going to happen. The finish is really fucking dull and out of nowhere. It seems this is due to an injury to Bayley's shoulder and god is this bad. Please give Bayley someone better to work with pronto. *

Paul Heyman comes in via satellite to talk about Goldberg's return. He does his usual mocking promo, going into his also usual Lesnar hype. Again we're told that Goldberg is out of his league. Heyman's great but fuck he has nothing to work with anymore it seems.

The Rusev and Lana segment was, as the usual fare amazing. They went into Rusev's family, complete with photos along with Denver! Rusev did this because he was upset by Roman's constant talking about his Samoan people. He went on with some racial stereotypes, then ended by saying they're stupid. SIMPLE AWESOME HEEL STUFF. Love it. We need The Rusevs as a sitcom. Denver booing the shit out of Rusev's family was so great and his reactions were godly. Papa Rusev is shown in obviously Soviet regalia and it is great. He talks about how great his dad was in the Army, FUCKIN' COMMIE BASTARD. So awesome. JOSEF STALIN MUSTACHE ON DAD! This made me love Rusev so much more, and then of course Roman Reigns had to interrupt. Of course he gets booed like hell. Roman rattles on about his Roman Empire...oh god. More waxing on unpoetical about fucking nothing. This segment went from good to bullshit because Roman is just NOT genuine as a character for me. Rusev is told that the only person he will be calling is 911. CLEVER ROMAN. Lana bows up to him and slaps his jaw off before Rusev comes from the side with a head kick. Proceed with the heat. Roman gets thrown around like a bitch on the floor, into the steps, and then some. Roman gets creamed by the steps and Cole is nice enough to tell us it'll all happen inside the cell. Yeah because steps aren't around the ring all the time. Roman has to get his little hope spot in but Rusev fucks him up. This was a roller coaster of good, bullshit, and back to alright again. I still doubt these two are going to have a really good HIAC.

Another Goldberg vignette. This time it is covering his debut in WWE when he interrupted The Rock after WrestleMania 19. Cool.

Emmalina hype follows as well. Emmalina is not a bad worker but they just never seem to give her anything that will work. Her most recent heel work was alright but her back injury derailed everything obviously. I hope she comes back better than ever but sadly. WWE has made me shell shocked.

Speaking of being completely numb to shit, Gallows and Anderson make their way to the ring. These guys are awesome but jesus they're nobodies. They have been beaten into powder week after week and now they're just another couple of guys. Enzo and Cass aren't just two guys as of now though and apparently WWE thinks there's magic between these four. I sure hope so, or I feel like Gallows and Anderson are fucked.

Karl Anderson vs Big Cass
This is yet another classic big man vs little man battle. Cass starts off hot with Anderson cornered and taking shots. We get a fallaway slam like this is some Razor Ramon shit by Cass and I pop as a 90's dork. Enzo is launched into Gallows and Gallows takes a bump like a goof. Anderson tries to catch Cass sleeping but fails. Go figure. Of course he takes Cass' finish and loses in a couple of minutes. TOTAL BULLSHIT. 0 *

We get another dumb backstage thing with Perkins and Kendrick. Meh.

Then it is Sasha's turn to have a sitdown with Lita. Sasha says she is ready and feels great about this big Hell in a Cell. Sasha talks about NXT and growing into where both Charlotte and herself are at now. Sasha says she will prove that she is the best and it will be proven inside Hell in a Cell. Sasha talks about being in Boston for Hell in a Cell and how that will be a big motivator for her. Sasha says it all feels so surreal but she won't let it get in her way. Sasha is asked about SummerSlam and she shows a hint of annoyance at that. She says it is the past and that she will be completely healthy for the big match in Boston. Then Sasha is asked if she is afraid and she pours on the babyface goodness. She gets emotional and says she wouldn't say she is afraid because fear is no option. Sasha then says she will make history and win. Really strong promo for her.

Cedric Alexander, Rich Swann, and TJ Perkins vs Brian Kendrick, Drew Gulak, and Tony Nese
There's a very mocking handshake to start and it is Gulak and Swann to begin. Gulak slaps the taste out of poor Swann's mouth and takes him down. Gulak's awesome on the mat. Swann is quick as hell as he does his somersault into a dropkick. Cedric comes in now and Nese follows. Cedric dropkicks Nese out of his boots and holy damn is this a fast one. Perkins is in with Nese now and he is caught trying a tornado DDT and is dropped into a vertical suplex. In comes Kendrick now as Perkins is down but immediately Kendrick is caught in Perkins' submission. Kendrick sells like his leg was being sawed off. Gulak and Cedric become legal and Gulak's head gets kicked off. In comes Kendrick yet again though and he's caught by Cedric. This one is too fast to call at times and all you need to know is that there were lots of moves that were very good. The crowd was hot for this match much more than they have been for the previous cruiserweight matches. Perkins murdered himself doing a dropkick to the floor when he bumped on his back on the apron. Kendrick takes the win on Swann with the Captain's Hook. Perkins claws at Kendrick to try and break the submission but is held back and Swann taps out. Good match. **3/4

Stephanie and Foley have an absolutely silly backstage segment announcing next week's main event, which is Rollins vs Owens vs Jericho. Oh so we end up with that three way anyways? Great booking.

The Goldberg promo was surreal. The man was cheered like Babe Ruth came from the grave and walked into Yankee Stadium. I will say that having the whole roster cheer him on as he walked to the ring was fucking pointless but that's this company for you. Denver still marked out huge for him so who cares I guess? Hey, as a kid that grew up during the heyday of WCW this was a mark out moment I won't lie. When the sparks erupted, this crowd lost their shit and it was uphill from there. I've never seen such a babyface it was incredible how this dude who had been gone for over ten years could win the WWE audience over immediately. Especially a guy that left the way he did from WWE Goldberg got obviously emotional when he got in the ring and the ovation kept going for minutes. Especially a guy that left the way he did from WWE, almost out of thin air after a horrible year. This was as organic of a promo as you'll ever see as Goldberg talked about his family and how he'd always imagined what it would be like for them to witness him in the ring one more time. He put over 2K and the whole video game process, saying it really humbled him. I think Goldberg might be the only man in history to leave the business a pretty bad promo and come back over a decade later a fucking PHENOMENAL PROMO. Goldberg mentioned that he missed being a superhero for all the kids in the world and in 2016, he got a pop for that. In an age when most people are jaded douchebags, this man hit heart strings and felt REAL. He wasn't some scripted douche, this man was three-dimensional and showed us what we should have been introduced to back in the late 90's perhaps. Goldberg did a great job of teasing that he wouldn't take the challenge, that maybe he would just keep this whole 2K experience in a video game. Then in a second, he changed gears and stated that Brock had no balls and had to have Heyman challenge him. Goldberg then asked the crowd what would they do? We got a yes chant. Goldberg finally said that maybe he has one last asskicking left in him, one last spear left in him, and maybe one last Jackhammer inside of him to unleash on Brock Lesnar. Goldberg then finally said that Brock Lesnar is next, as well as last. This was promo of the year perhaps. FUCKING A PLUS.

Hell in a Cell 2016

I believe this show was the glaring example of what kind of bullshit these two pay-per-view months could churn out. The build for almost every single match on this card felt rushed and incomplete, with perhaps an exception for the Rollins vs Owens match. Charlotte vs Sasha, while always a very strong match in the ring, didn't feel like a main event level match until a week or two prior to the show. It just felt like another match in a long line of a seemingly endless series for both women. The New Day have dominated the tag division for well over a year but that's an easy achievement these days with the likes of The Shining Stars given some time on the RAW shows. Cesaro and Sheamus were just murdering each other every week and now they're supposed to be tag title contenders and yet, this might have been second to Owens vs Rollins as a story that meant at least SOMETHING. Everything else felt incredibly pointless. Roman vs Rusev has lost its luster because of the constant dominance by Roman that makes no one give a shit about Rusev as any kind of a serious competitor. Now with Goldberg and Brock Lesnar's build in full force, Survivor Series is the dark cloud hanging around this festival anyways. A prime example of Vince and his minions looking at the trees and missing the forest going forward.

Roman Reigns(c) vs Rusev in a Hell in a Cell match for the United States Championship
THE HOSS BATTLE OF ALL HOSS BATTLES IN WWE. These guys are really good together. These guys whip each other's asses early on, mainly Roman taking the heat. This is the normal, basic structure that most of their matches follow but complete with more violence which makes it much better in my view. Rusev takes a really nasty bump into the cell early and dies on the floor. Roman uses this as a chance to toss him around like a bitch into the cell again and again. Roman goes for his dumb flying shotgun dropkick on the apron but gets smacked in the mouth by Rusev! He pays the price for a while himself because the heat is REAL. Rusev isn't in control long though until Roman makes him pay heavy into the cage. Both guys do stuff, mainly throwing each other into the cell again and again. Roman beats Rusev in the back with the singapore cane which is always an easy reaction for live crowds with the sound and such. Rusev ends up with the cane, beating Roman while he is locked in the ropes before snaping the cane in half like a very mean man. Roman of course no sells this and levels him with a clothesline. Both men fight to their feet and exchange right hands in the signature “we're making you realize this is the closing part of our match” spot. More back and forth stuff until Roman hits a very cool Superman Punch for a near fall. Rusev counters Roman and drives him into a pre-positioned part of the ring steps that was leaning on the top rope in a pretty cool visual. Rusev can't get the finish though and feigns despair with a GREAT EXPRESSION. Rusev teases for his finish and locks on The Accolade! Can Roman find a way tho? HE DOES OF COURSE. Rusev rolls out to the floor and reveals a logging chain, and in response to this discovery he bites it and makes a wild face before getting beat up by Roman. Great way to make Rusev look awesome and kill him instantly but hey. So Roman has Rusev on his heels and Rusev drives the chain down onto Roman and into his gut. Rusev whips him like a damn dog and this is fantastic. I can't think of a more perfect example of why wrestling is awesome than this image. Huge, bulking heel just murdering a babyface. Set it in Boston and this is great. Rusev props up the steps sideways which is strange. Roman's bounced off them a bit and gets a superkick for his troubles for a near fall! Boston is falling in love with Rusev, how am I not surprised? Rusev has had enough and decides the best course of action is to prop up Roman on those said steps and put an Accolade on...WITH THE LOGGING CHAIN ACROSS HIS MOUTH! Bravo guys this was really fun. This image is immediately soiled by Roman “Hulking” out of this and hitting a Samoan Drop on the steps. Rusev's shocked face almost redeems this bullshit. Rusev gets up, feeding on the steps for a huge Spear for the finish. This is really good, much better than I expected yet still lacking quite a bit for me. ***

Owens cuts a promo along with Tom, John, Issac, Rick, Darrell, James, Chris, Fergal, and Brent Phillips. He says the usual about being mean and how he's going to show the world how mean he is in the cell with Rollins tonight. Not bad, not profound.

Kevin Owens(c) vs Seth Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship in a Hell in a Cell match
Rollins smartly starts this match like a house of fire on Owens and they brawl on the floor. Owens takes the cell to the back early and rolls into the ring, logically telling us that he isn't a moron. Rollins gives Owens the slingblade in the ring and it is clear early that Rollins is focused despite clearly having a bad back. I can agree with a story any day in this fucked up business. I might have liked a little more plunder early, kind of putting over how truly pissed about being fucked over Rollins was but it wasn't bad. They went the “build towards the plunder” route that I usually agree with anyways. We yet again get the Buff Bagwell Blockbuster that I love so much. Just as I begin to wish for plunder, Rollins pulls out a table and sets it up on the floor. Owens runs away YES! I love Owens for being the heel to the end despite talking a huge game. Sickening senton on Rollins' back again and again. Owens rips off Rollins' back tape and starts racking him into the cage. Owens is trying to put over he's a crazed man as he continues to throw Rollins around. Rollins' back becomes the focus of Owens' hatred and he is throwing mean kicks and general douchebag tactics. The zenith for me is when Rollins is tossed like a sack of shit from the ring, through the ropes, and head first into the cell. Holy fucking shit that was top notch. Owens continues to throw Rollins around and measures him up in the ring for the end. Owens takes his sweet time like a cocky heel before he does his cannonball into the corner and wrecks Rollins. Rollins rolls to the floor, cowers into the corner of the cell and eats another cannonball on the floor! That was pretty insane. Owens tries for the Pop-Up Powerbomb but Rollins reverses into a Pedigree attempt and let the counter fest begin! Each guy goes and misses a move like this is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon before Owens puts Rollins down with a huge clothesline. Owens goes back out to the floor and we get another table! This time Owens notices that the other table is still there. He ponders things before setting the table up at an angle OVER the other table. Very odd structure there. The fans definitely love this and Owens gets a knee for his stalling. THEN A FALCON ARROW ON THE GODDAMNED APRON. Christ these men hate themselves. Rollins stumbles back into the ring and hits his suicida on Owens twice in a row. Owens collapses into the ring and Rollins is rolling now, going for his springboard knee but Owens again is rolling to the floor. He gets a fire extinguisher and drives it into Rollins' stomach before setting it off into the ref's eyes! This is classic and there is a second ref there magically to help out. I never saw that fuck. Rollins is rolled back into the ring and the cell is opened, allowing Jericho to run in! The fans love this as he locks himself in. Owens is pleased, running the ref away as Jericho reveals that he has the only key. Jericho takes a bump into the cell by Rollins but Owens makes him pay with a Package Driver thing for a near fall. Owens goes to the top, yet Rollins leaps up and they both tease moves until dropping down and Rollins finally hits his springboard knee. Rollins tries a Pedigree but Jericho jumps in and eats a Pedigree of his own! Owens uses this distraction to try for a powerbomb into the tables of death. Rollins tries to hoss up Owens and fails miserably but Rollins fucking deadlifts him up AND TOSSES HIM OVER THE TOP INTO THE TABLES. Very cool spot that is way too dangerous. Owens is snagged and Rollins, not going for a pin instead goes up top for the frog splash. He does hit it but Jericho is there to pull the ref out of the ring! Rollins is both saddened and pissed now. Rollins makes Jericho his bitch throwing him all over the damn place, even into the rubble that the tables created. Owens as this happens, is in the ring dead. Jericho takes a powerbomb back first into the cell and Rollins takes just too much time. Owens hits a superkick and his Pop-Up Powerbomb FOR A NEAR FALL. Very awesome false finish. Owens looks completely empty now. Owens finally looks to have snapped, ground and pounding Rollins in the ring as Jericho comes back with a chair. He hands it to Rollins and beats on Rollins himself. Owens pulls him back and unloads multiple chairshots to Rolllins' back. Jericho gets a chair of his own and Rollins fights up somehow, takes a chair and lays out both guys for a while before being cut off and DDT'd onto a chair! He looked impaled in the mat on that one. Owens sets up both chairs facing each other, and drives Rollins spine first into the chairs with a powerbomb for the win. I liked this match much more than many, yet I have to admit there were some definite flaws. ***3/4
TJ Perkins(c) vs Brian Kendrick for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
TJ Perkins blows at promos but he's pretty good in the ring. Kendrick is just fucking fantastic. This match actually does begin with a handshake, the catalyst to this whole feud. Then it gets fast and furious with really good chain wrestling. If you want to learn technique, watch these two. Test of strength is used by Kendrick to bring down Perkins but Perkins monkey flips his way out. Kendrick does the same yet Perkins lands on his feet! Corkscrew into a sunset flip from the corner by Kendrick only gets a two count. This is very awesome. Kendrick finally begins to get frustrated by Perkins out wrestling him. Shoves are exchanged and we go back into wild spots everywhere. Kendrick somehow manages to get ahold of Perkins and ties his wrist tape to the bottom rope from the floor! This man can do no wrong it seems. Kendrick naturally gives him the business with stomps before tearing him from the rope just to suplex him around like a dick. We get a crevate by Kendrick as a rest spot which is so great to see in a WWE ring. Chris Hero from 2003 is really mad somewhere. Perkins fights out though and we get more wild moves. Perkins dropkicks Kendrick's knee out and rushes into the corner, butts him in the ribs and springboard dropkicks him to the floor and nails a corkscrew plancha on Kendrick to the floor! Perkins hits a vertical suplex float-over into a back suplex to set up a move off the top but he's caught in mid air with a dropkick by Kendrick! Kendrick doesn't get the pin though and he is grasping for straws at this point in the sprint. Headkick by Perkins is answered with a yakuza kick. Perkins nails his wild fireman's carry into a pele kick for a near fall! Perkins tries for a wheelbarrow bulldog but is countered with a Regal Plex for a near fall! I love that move so much. Kendrick tries for something out of a torture rack and he's countered but finds himself locking on a Captain's Hook! Perkins is sliding around towards the ropes, eventually breaking the hold when he tries for a quick pin but doesn't succeed. Perkins suddenly bursts into his submission hold but Kendrick quickly gets to the ropes. Kendrick goes for his Sliced Bread #2 but Perkins counters, yet Kendrick looks to have hurt his knee. Perkins looks concerned, and the ref continues to check on him. Perkins sits in the corner looking very upset, thinking this man was hurt against him. He consoles Kendrick and takes a fucking headbutt for his troubles and the Captain's Hook! Perkins can't takes it and submits! So happy with this outcome and what a match. ***3/4

WWE is in a very dangerous situation in regards to the booking direction that is being reported as their future plans. RAW's December “network exclusive”, Roadblock will feature a WWE Universal Championship match between Kevin Owens and the United States Champion Roman Reigns. Naturally, the internet wrestling world has lost their collective minds over this idea because of the very well publicized failures in pushing Roman to the next level in the past. Add on the fact that Owens hasn't been bad as champion despite in some cases being second fiddle to Chris Jericho's odd career resurgence. He's been very good in the ring and even though his feud with Seth Rollins has lacked any true meaning in any way he's done what he could in critical situations. Their Hell in a Cell encounter was strong despite being wedged in the middle of a fairly lackluster card. Roman Reigns has done decently with Rusev, but the peak was squandered in August at SummerSlam when things felt their most molten. Rusev has since become all but sympathetic in the situation, complete with Roman playing the anti-hero sort of character, making fun of Rusev and his family while still smiling to the fans as if to say; “I'm cool, right?” Wrong. He's come across as wooden and unable to find relatable in any way, shape, or form. His respective Hell in a Cell match with Rusev was a prime example of a good match wasted with a bullshit finish. Roman took a beating that was awesome, just to no sell things and beat Rusev within a matter of moments making the several minute battle seem pointless. It didn't make Roman look better, and in fact by the end Boston was loving Rusev like he was Irish. The fact is that Roman needs way more rebuilding before he needs to be in the big picture, and having him within the confines of the upper-midcard level has done him wonders even if his feud with Rusev has ran it's course. Then again, I'm sure Vince and others in the back are still reeling from their shit luck with Finn Balor's injury and see the tanking ratings as a sign that things need to change. What they need to understand is that what needs to change is the entire format of wrestling, and how that happens takes a visionary to figure out. Owens being champion or not isn't going to change the true issues with WWE and anyone that knows wrestling at even the most basic level could tell you that. Having a product that looks and feels antiquated in many respects makes things feel meaningless when they should mean at least SOMETHING. Football has evolved into a media circus with some guys in pads, and yet wrestling hasn't jumped over that bullshit Vince Russo hump of the Attitude Era haze. It's like Vince forgot that things could change after 2000. We've always had small glimmers of hope in change, but they always seem to rewind back to the way things were before. Hence the muscle-bound hero being the focal point for a McMahon-owned wrestling company yet again.

CMLL Domingo Dia De Muertos

Not a whole lot here to say other than this is one of the coolest looking shows of the year anywhere in the world. Much of the card was contested under blacklights with combatants wearing elaborate, sugar skull paint and glowing outfits. Everyone, including the referees, the ring announcer, and commentators were painted up as well as some of the crowd. It was your usual, bizarre lucha fare but man I love that they go outside the box this time of year to put on a really cool show that works instead of a Trick or Street Fight like we saw on RAW for Halloween.

Ultimo Guerrero vs Rush
These two are awesome and they were awesome here. Rush is such a badass with an aura that is hard to match in this day and age. These guys didn't reinvent the wheel or anything, and they certainly weren't performing in a crisp, more Americanized style either. This was a lot of lucha brawling, slow spots, and stuff. BUT THAT IS WHAT MADE IT GREAT. Ultimo got the big win 2-1 and the world rejoiced! ***1/2

NJPW Power Struggle 2016 Thoughts:

First off, New Japan is one of the most enjoyable promotions in the world today not only because of their high workrate but also their production. They make people feel important even by first glance and that is such a tough thing to portray.

I won't review every single match simply because some of the matches were just decent matches that nothing really special happened in. I mainly want to highlight the matches that are either title matches or matches with high significance.

The Guerillas of Destiny(Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa)(c) vs Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI for the IWGP Tag Team Championships
This was much better than I expected. It was very bare bones with The Guerillas pummeling YOSHI like a damn fool while Ishii gets the occasional tag to beat the living shit out of the bad guys. Ishii takes his usually insane bumps now and then but other than that, he was really good here at being in the right place at the right time. YOSHI might be the most improved Japanese worker in New Japan today because it wasn't that long ago that I despised his matches but this is really good from him. The bad guys take the win but the Ishii/HASHI team isn't dead in the water yet. ***1/2

Super Juniors Tag Team Tournament Finals
Roppongi Vice(Trent Baretta and Rocky Romero) vs ACH and Taiji Ishimori

BUSHI(c) vs KUSHIDA for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
These guys are always really good together. BUSHI as champion has been rather strange because BUSHI hasn't really felt like a big enough deal for that honor but he's not been awful, in fact he is very good. KUSHIDA is just the man in the juniors division though and it feels wrong when someone else has the title. This is the usual fare from these two with KUSHIDA selling like hell and BUSHI brings the sneaky heel goodness. KUSHIDA's top rope cross armbreaker in mid air is fucking wild and BUSHI plays it off as if he's arm is being cut off with a band saw. He finds the ropes though and yet KUSHIDA isn't even close to done with his limb. KUSHIDA does some over-the-shoulder arm breakers but BUSHI throws hands in response. SPOTZ occur and BUSHI unleashes a fucking lucharific suicida through the ropes and nails KUSHIDA with a headbutt. Tremendous. KUSHIDA is dead in the corner and takes the Rush running knees but isn't gonna lay down. These guys are insanely skilled and they go into a quick flurry of reversals and holds, with BUSHI locking on a guillotine with a body scissors and KUSHIDA looks done for. KUSHIDA is the mega babyface of the juniors though! KUSHIDA slow builds his comeback from this and yet he still takes more punishment and survives. BUSHI nails a Codebreaker that fails him and he's starting to look pretty pissed off. BUSHI ups the ante with a jumping Codebreaker from the turnbuckles but that also fails. Now he's going up high to end this fucking thing but he takes his sweet time, the enemy of many a bad man in wrestling. KUSHIDA responds with elbow hatred. He then goes after the mask and things get heated. Canadian Destroyer by BUSHI! Christ and it isn't even the finish? Brilliantly BUSHI's own jumping Codebreaker is countered with KUSHIDA nailing one of his own. Smart move I'd say. BUSHI lands on his head from a sunset flip spot so that isn't cool. KUSHIDA just stares at him and immediately goes for his Kimura Lock and they go into the final leg of this thing. BUSHI fights like hell in the hold for some time and they roll in and out of it for a spell. In the end, it is just too much and I really liked this match a lot. ***3/4

As KUSHIDA celebrates, the Time Bomb countdown finally reaches it's end. The lights come down and go red. An oddly similar video to the original Chris Jericho titantron plays, with images of nuclear holocaust and mangled flags. Out comes Kaimaitachi, who is now going by his real name Hiromu Takahashi. He comes down to the ring looking like a deranged drug addict and gets face to face with the new champion just to avoid him and taunt to the crowd. What charisma this weird fucker has. KUSHIDA looks like he is done with this night's bullshit and that's when Takahashi takes the mic and cuts a promo. Obviously I don't know what he said but he gestures towards the title so that makes it obvious he's wanting KUSHIDA's title. KUSHIDA responds in babyface form getting intense. I need this match! Perhaps this will be reserved for Wrestle Kingdom in January? We shall see.

The Dream Team(Adam Cole, Kenny Omega, and The Young Bucks) vs Chaos(Hirooki Goto, Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, and Gedo)
Faction war is a huge part of New Japan for those uninitiated and the Bullet Club vs Chaos feud has been part of the last 3 years of their whole vision. Clearly, that vision has paid off quite a bit. Omega is the fucking man right now but his three teammates aren't to be ignored either. This is Adam Cole's coming out party in Japan on this tour, he's been really solid as of late. This match is really a snapshot of the big power brokers in New Japan mixed with the next big stars that are ready to come up for them. Gedo is well known as the booker of New Japan, Okada is the IWGP Champion, Omega is the holder of the G1 which means he gets the main event spot for the title at Wrestle Kingdom, and Ospreay as well as The Bucks are simply amazing in the ring. Goto's the perennial...guy in NewJapan. He gets big matches and pushes but ultimately he is just kind of there.

Ospreay elects to start for Chaos and Nick Jackson does the same for The Dream Team. They do the usual, quick junior style feeling out stuff with arm wringers and reversals using rolls and such. Ospreay reverses an arm wringer by doing about 11 kip ups and an arm drag. They do leap frogs and back and forths, tons of White Boy Lucha but it is at a high level so it looks snazzy. In comes Matt for the big double team but it backfires. Ospreay feigns a dive and poses, The Bucks are pissed! Nick does the “I tripped going in the ring” spot and finally Omega gets a tag. Ospreay vs Omega yes! Okada wants a tag though! Oh shit it got real. Omega plays the great heel and tags out to Cole. How did I not know I wanted this match? Omega blindsides Okada before the lock up though and Cole takes out the rest of the team on the apron. Cole and Omega try to double team but they are outsmarted by Okada. We get an awesome Guerrero senton from the apron on Cole. Omega is thrown onto a downed Cole and The Dream Team is in trouble. Goto is tagged in and he slings poor Cole around. Gedo ends up tagged in and he's a victim to the dastardly heels. Cole is neutralized though with a kneeling superkick but this just brings in The Bucks to unleash a flury of superkicks and moves. Omega comes in to join in on the fun and puts down Ospreay. TERMINATOR DIVE SPOTS! All four men do stereo suicidas to the floor and it was so awesome to see. Cole rolls in Gedo, and throws him into The Dream Team corner. Nick tags in and knees Gedo's face off in the corner. Omega comes back in and tortures the vet Gedo. He uses Gedo's beard against him and tags in Nick who does an axe handle on the beard! These men are great. The Dream Team continues the beard violence on Gedo for a time as part of the heat segment, along with a Cole chinlock. Gedo fights his ass off though and young Cole cuts off his corner. Things break down and Omega ends up coming in and eating a Flatliner by Gedo and Goto gets the hot tag. Goto does his corner spinning heel kick on Cole as well as a Saito Suplex for a near fall. Cole takes a WICKED lariat that drops him right on his neck, yeeesh. The Bucks come in for the double Superkick on Goto but Ospreay comes in with the handspring, rebound double pele kick on all men involved and a dive to follow. In comes Goto for the fireman's carry neckbreaker on the knee. Okada and Omega are finally paired up! Okada nails his Schwein neckbreaker and as things look great for him, Matt Jackson sprays canned air into his eyes. Matt almost eats a move from Goto but spreays him as well but still takes a bump in great comedy. Ospreay nails Cole with a wild Osaka Street Cutter. Omega and Ospreay then pair off and Ospreay nails a standing Spanish Fly on Omega, yet again following up with a dive on the rest of Dream Team. Okada is back to go for The Rainmaker but The Bucks save the day! All four Dream Team members nails Okada with a four man superkick but it is broken up by Gedo, Okada's mentor! He turns around and like an old badass, shows no fear against all four men and THROWS HANDS! This man is great. Of course he dies after a four man superkick but hey. Omega goes for his finish but Okada counters. Omega counters and again and again they go. Awesome dropkick by Okada ends the sequence.Rainmaker is counter with a vicious knee to the face followed by a reverse rana. Goddamn Omega is scary good. Rushing knee into the ropes and Omega finally hits his finish for the win. This one was FUN, FUN, FUN. ****

Katsuyori Shibata(c) vs EVIL for the NEVER Openweight Championship
EVIL must be lumped into that “most improved Japanese worker” camp for this company along with HASHI because this most recent EVIL run has been pretty damn good. Shibata is a madman traditionalist sort of wrestler where he doesn't say a single word, he just kills you. Much like a prime Dean Malenko but with kicks. Lots of kicks. Lecherous kicks.

The early going isn't anything necessarily special, yet not bad at all. Just the usual feeling out stuff, with moves really going nowhere in a measured attempt to make the proceeding moves mean more. Psychology? No way. Shibata locks on a head triangle from the back and EVIL gets to the ropes. Just to let us know that he's a really great wrestler that EVIL will have to out smart. Then, Shibata just rushes him and boots his sorry ass into the barricade from the apron. EVIL responds as Shibata gets in the ring with a lariat that sends him crashing to the floor. EVIL comes out and irish whips Shibata hard into the barricade while then working on his back right arm. Glorious mean stuff. EVIL has a chair now and traps said bad arm inside it and bashes him into the post! Shibata sells while the chair is still trapping his arm and he works that goddamn chair for what seems like ages as the count gets longer and longer and finally he breaks free and gets in the ring. That was some amazing work by Shibata. EVIL is on him though and Shibata is stomped all to shit. Big back senton by EVIL isn't enough to win but Shibata sells like he's dying big time. EVIL does all he can do to fuck that right arm up. Shibata starts in with his “I'm blocking the pain and challenge you to kill me more” segment and he simply gets to his feet taking hard shots and hits one elbow that brings EVIL nearly to his knees. Shibata then slings him from pillar to post, kicking his face off in between the traffic. Mean missle dropkick into the corner on EVIL. He looks completely done. He's not though and we get MORE VIOLENCE. This is just plain awesome, hard hitting pro 'rasslin at it's best. Shibata locks on an abdominal stretch and it isn't bullshit. EVIL gets tired of taking the shine so he starts going nuts, slinging the ref out of the way as he stomps Shibata in. This starts our back-and-forth stiffness exchange complete with elbows, big boots, and other assorted nasty looking shit. EVIL uses an elbow strike as a near fall. EVIL then hits his very nifty death valley driver into a powerbomb for a very close near fall! That was good stuff. He tries for his STO finish but Shibata counters with a STO of his own! Both men lie dead. Both men end up on their feet and we get even more strike exchanging. It is some great stuff though and Shibata slaps the ever loving FUCK out of EVIL and slaps on a sleeper. This must be seen because my god he kills him with the slap. EVIL fights out and tries for an arm breaker on Shibata but Shibata locks the sleeper in hard before dropping him back on his head with a suplex! I used to love that move when I played with toys but my god that is suicide as a real spot. The replay reveals he actually traps one arm before throwing him over. EVIL tries staying away because he's dead but Shibata isn't happy until he kills this young man and wins! The ref takes a bump and EVIL uses the momentary distraction to neutralize Shibata on the floor before rolling him in the ring and bringing chairs into the ring. Shibata's head is now trapped in a chair and EVIL smashes the chair with another chair, crushing his neck LIKE A TOOTHPICK!!! EVIL adds more violence to the proceedings with a fisherman's buster on a chair that puts Shibata on his neck. The ref slides in to count but Shibata is ALIVE! An STO by EVIL doesn't let that go on long and this was PHENOMENAL. Biggest win of EVIL's career and I'd say his best performance as well. ****1/2

SANADA vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
This is a highly intriguing match, the New Japan longtime ace against the longtime protege of Keiji Mutoh. SANADA as a heel has been super awesome and putting him against perhaps NJ's biggest face is such a great move.

These two throw out some really awesome chain wrestling early on, all kinds of bridges and switches. They put over early that they're equals, which is huge with Tanahashi since he's a big star and SANADA has been mostly part of a lower promotion with Wrestle-1. Both men tease a handshake but also both try to kick each other and we get a hilarious spot with both men negotiating a cease fire of sorts but SANADA just beats him up. Tanahashi counters with a flurry of offense and SANADA runs to the floor to regroup. SANADA just walks around leisurely and Tanahashi offers to help him through the ropes but SANADA leaps over them and we get a wild flurry yet again with SANADA dropkicking Tanahashi to the floor and hitting a slingshot body press over the top to the floor. SANADA walks Tanahashi all the way up the ramp and tries something but Tanahashi counters for a bit until SANADA hits a hurricanrana on the ramp! Tanahashi is selling as the count reaches closer and closer to 20. SANADA just walks to the ring like no big deal as Tanahashi literally rolls all the way down the ramp and crawls into the ring. What an awesome moment. SANADA tries for a standing moonsault but Tanahashi rolls away, SANADA still lands on his feet and dropkicks him in the back. Tanahashi tries for a comeback but finds himself in an armbar variation by SANADA. Tanahashi fights like hell to escape but SANADA won't let go. Tanahashi finally fights into the ropes to break the hold. Tanahashi gets a second wind and throws strikes at SANADA but he doesn't have enough and is cornered. Tanahashi keeps firing up though and both men go back and forth in the corner with striking. European uppercuts level Tanahashi, who slumps down on his ass in the corner. SANADA whips him across but Tanahashi counters with a running elbow strike. We get a wild flurry of offense, an elbow as well as a rolling senton by Tanahashi. Tanahashi goes for something from the top but is knocked down yet he maneuvers himself back into the ring just to be leveled by SANADA. Tanahashi catches him trying a kick through the ropes and hits a dragon screw onto the second rope followed by a slingblade on the apron. Tanahashi busts out a wild frog-splash kind of plancha from the top to the floor that looks like it kills SANADA because Tanahashi lands very high and crushes SANADA's face. SANADA is somehow ok and he is outsmarting Tanahashi rather quickly, hitting a great sprinboard dropkick like his mentor Mutoh. More back and forth countering. SANADA looks to tweak his knee yet he still hits a TKO on Tanahashi for a near fall. Tiger Suplex also follows that is really crisp yet Tanahashi perseveres. SANADA locks in a Dragon Clutch though and tries putting Tanahashi out but SANADA makes the mistake of letting go of the hold and missing a moonsault. Tanahashi tries to go for his frog splash but misses as well. SANADA again goes for a moonsault but his knee gives and SANADA begins selling it majorly. The referee checks on him as Tanahashi gets to his feet and he looks very angry. SANADA tries for a kick to the stomach but Tanahashi goes after his bad knee. He works the knee and quickly locks in a cloverleaf. SANADA fights it and gets to the ropes. Tanahashi doesn't give two fucks though and goes after the knee more and more with repeated dragon screw leg whips and again, he goes for the frog splash but takes SANADA's knees to the ribs. SANADA still sells his knee though and can't take advantage of Tanahashi's error. Both men get to their knees and start throwing elbows as they get to their feet. They stumble around after every shot and they seem to crescendo into yet another Dragon Clutch hold but Tanahashi slides out into a small package for a two count. SANADA gets the Dragon Sleeper locked but Tanahashi counters. More countering occurs until Tanahashi hits some kind of swinging neckbreaker out of a headlock it seemed. More wild offense and a slingblade by Tanahashi slow things down. Tanahashi hits a Dragon Suplex for a near fall and again, he's going for broke with the frog splash and nails SANADA who's on his stomach. Tanahashi goes back up top and hits a normal frog splash for the win. Things got rather sloppy and I'm not sure if it is because of a real knee injury on SANADA but both guys did well despite the errors. ***1/2

Tetsuya Naito(c) vs Jay Lethal for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
These men had an incredible match on one of the more recent ROH pay-per-views so being able to see these guys in a high level Japanese main event makes me very pleased. Naito is just the ultimate, sloth-like heel of all time. Despite being a great athlete, he so often uses laziness as a spot to get heat. It's great and very original. Lethal is a force of nature that has been overlooked all too often in his career but this match is a chance for him to show the world how great he can be.
Naito takes his sweet time getting out of his entrance suit and Lethal even feigns looking at his watch. Finally we get the bell and both men simply stand and stare for a spell. The fans react and they circle each other and seem to be in no hurry. Naito avoids the lock up and tells the crowd to just calm down. WHAT A MAN! We get even more avoidance by Naito and finally Lethal nails a superkick and immediately hits a series of dives through the ropes into Naito and the barricade. Three to be exact and then he does Naito's famous taunting on the apron. Naito's thrown into the ring and Lethal's on him like crazy. Naito goes after Lethal's eyes but it doesn't do much good because he's arm dragged and dropkicked in the face for it. Lethal beats on Naito all around the ring but he is dropped nuts first on the top rope quickly and sent to the floor. Naito fucks with the crowd and feigns a dive, just to do his usual posing in the ring like a model. Awesome! Lethal sells his junk on the floor for all he's worth and Naito goes after him with stomps. Naito lays down in the ring as if to take a quick nap before going back to the floor and throwing Lethal into the barricade back first again and again. Lethal finally rolls into the ring favoring his ribs. Lethal still shows heart, fighting back while Naito needles him. He hits an enzugiri that looks to rock Naito but again, Naito goes after the eyes like a true douchebag. Naito throws all the moves in the world at Lethal but doesn't seem worried about beating him yet. A chinlock is slapped on Lethal and Naito stares down Togi Makabe who is doing commentary. I wonder who he'll work next? Lethal fights to his feet and manages to hit an ace crusher to neutralize the playing field for a moment. Lethal is on Naito as they both get to their feet and he's throwing out all the babyface shine stuff; dropkicks, back elbows, and all kinds of fire. Spinebuster on Naito only gets a two count. Naito spits up and sells like his lungs deflated. Again, GREAT! Naito yet again gets the upper hand however and makes Lethal pay for his damages. Lethal fights out of the corner and tries for a powerbomb but Naito counters with a flatliner into a Koji Clutch but Lethal quickly gets the rope break. Naito seems to just laugh it off and goes back to work but Lethal still has more in the gas tank. Lethal Combination puts Naito down out of nowhere and he's rolling in pain. Lethal still looks all kinds of fucked up though so he can't take control. Finally Lethal gets to his feet, trying for a vertical suplex but Naito fights out and tries for a tornado DDT yet he's hit with a death valley driver instead. This isn't enough for Lethal to win though and he's getting increasingly frustrated. He then responds with a back suplex chain sequence but Naito fights out until he's crotched on the turnbuckle. Lethal tries for what looks to be a back suplex but Naito again fights out and Lethal plunges to the canvas. He regroups and hits a dropkick though on Naito as he positions up high and hits a big superplex from the top. Naito barely kicks out and Lethal is showing absolute despair at this point. The Handspring is parried and Naito hits his tornado DDT after all and again, both men are down and hurt. Naito recovers quickly though and he's looking to springboard from the apron and hits a missile dropkick. Frankensteiner from the second by Naito followed by his wild reverse DDT variation for a near fall. Lethal fights on though and levels Naito with a sloppy clothesline. Both men are up though and they're throwing forearms back and forth. Naito ends it with a vertical suplex and yet Lethal fights up to hit a wild reverse Finlay roll into a crossface! Naito is in trouble and he slides to the ropes. Lethal goes for a german suplex to Naito on the apron but ends up settling for a vertical suplex that looks NASTY! Lethal hits a buckle bomb into a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall. Naito hits an enzugiri though and follows up with an elbow strike. Naito tries for his reverse DDT variation but Lethal counters and tries for his handspring cutter, and eats the Naito DDT out of nowhere for the finish. Really good match that made both men look strong so bravo! ****

After the match, Tanahashi walks to the ring and grabs the mic behind Naito. I'm again assuming this is build towards the Wrestle Kingdom show, and I really think both these guys can have a great match.

Sasha Banks(c) vs Charlotte for the RAW Women's Championship in a Hell in a Cell match
Of course the huge narrative of this is that it is the first ever all women's main event in WWE pay-per-view history but the angle coming in has been highly infamous as something of a lackluster story. Sure, Sasha won the title twice this year on RAW against Charlotte and yet Charlotte has been afforded the undefeated streak on pay-per-view this year. That isn't a bad angle but the way the booking has flipped and flopped so frequently has made this feel flat.

All the talk didn't matter when Boston erupted into a “We Want Sasha” chant and absolutely lost it when she came to the ring in an Escalade. I have to give WWE credit on the flamboyant entrances, Charlotte came in on a throne carried by regal musclemen. It goes without saying but both of these ladies are big stars, weak creative aside. I really liked the touch of having the cell lower down after all the introductions, and having both women really sell panic as it came down over them. This is something I hope they keep down the road. Charlotte blindsides Sasha and she rolls outside under the cell! There's a weird moment of confusion and both women finally escape outside to the floor by the announce tables. Sasha launches Charlotte into the crowd and they start to fight in the crowd. This looks like a total war between two drunk girls in the club which makes it excellent! They go back to ringside and Sasha sets up one of the announce tables for destruction, yet Charlotte teases going up top and the fans respond big time. Sasha follows her as both women scale the side of the cage and Boston is losing their shit! Charlotte falls on her own and Sasha drops down into a powerbomb and is sent crashing through the announce table, taking a NASTY bump high on her shoulders on the floor. This is some wild shit. Charlotte acts possessed and goes after Sasha but the ref hulks up to her and demands she let him and another ref check on Sasha. They do so, and the crowd kinda dies. Sasha finally moves around though and the crowd comes back with wild cheers for her. Charlotte taunts Sasha like a total bitch, and Sasha stumbles around like her back is destroyed. Awesome touch. This is a really smart way to make every bump mean something, even if it makes the action slow down quite a bit. Perhaps as fans all too many of us forget that less is more. Especially when it comes to these highly risky gimmick matches. Sasha collapses again and again, finally crumpling and sobing on the floor as the ref calls for EMTs. The fans really feel like they're getting fucked as this slowly goes on and Charlotte continues to work asking for her title. Just as the ref is about to announce that Sasha has to forfeit, she fucking HULKS UP HUGE AND NAILS AN EMT! Boston loses their minds and the match is on! Charlotte starts getting thrown around like a ragdoll into the cell and all around, taking some shots on the mat as well as she runs away for safety. Awesome open hand chop by Sasha that murders, along with a knife-edged for her papa. Sasha eats the post though hard and sudden the mood changes again. A MONKEY FLIP BY CHARLOTTE ON SASHA INTO THE CELL! What a damn spot, that was great. Charlotte continues to work Sasha's back when they come back into the ring. Sasha is suplexed back first into the corner now for a two count. Sasha is taking some absolutely wicked bumps as always. Sasha quickly gets the backcracker into the Bank Statement! Charlotte muscles her up though and sends her over the top onto the apron! Jesus these women are killing each other here. Charlotte goes under the ring and begins to bring out some plunder, starting with a chair. Sasha gives her a baseball slide twice and then a fucking INSANE suicide plancha through the ropes into the cell which looked fucking awful for all involved. This woman has no fear at all. The match is back in the ring and now Sasha sets a chair up in the center of the ring. Both women fight for the advantage until Charlotte takes way too much time in a weird moment taunting in the corner until Sasha finally gets a drop toe-hold face first into the chair for Charlotte. Then Charlotte does the dastardly backbreaker onto the open chair spot and Boston gasps in sadness. Charlotte then bends Sasha over the post in a very sickening manner. Charlotte takes a fucking awesome dropkick to the back and goes face first into the cell, Sasha then goes after Charlotte and is throw up onto the cell yet she catches herself and twists in mid air to nail Charlotte with her double knees onto the floor. Great spot. The replay shows that in fact it was a left knee right to the face. Charlotte takes more of a beating after this, and she sells like she's dying. Sasha unleashes double knees again and again, driving Charlotte into the cell. Sasha nails a frog splash for a great near fall. Sasha then sinks in the Bank Statement but Charlotte wiggles out to the floor to escape and gets onto the apron, beating on Sasha as she tries to get back in. Sasha catches her and sets her up for the ropes-assisted double knees but before she does it, she places the chair from earlier under her and drives Charlotte down hard into the wreckage. Charlotte will not die though and doesn't stay down. Charlotte pulls Sasha through the ropes and to the floor, driving her face first into the steps and Sasha tumbles viciously to the floor. Charlotte pauses, then goes back under the ring and brings out a table to a positive roar from the crowd. The table is set up on the floor and Charlotte tries for a superplex through it, yet Sasha fights high up top. Charlotte falls and Sasha boots her down in a sloppy table spot and the crowd sort of dies again. Sasha gets down and grabs Charlotte to toss her back into the ring for a near fall. Sasha goes back under the ring and gets out another table and Boston roars yet again, wanting a good table spot to cleanse their pallets. Sasha is wedged between the edge of the table and the cell by Charlotte who gouges her as she tries sliding it into the ring. Charlotte then sets the table up in the ring by a turnbuckle as Sasha tries to regain her composure and get back in the ring. Sasha leaps off the table but gets caught by Charlotte with the big boot and a figure four gets locked on, and as the figure eight is put on Sasha drills her with a chair in the ribs and hip to break the hold. Both men then stumble to their feet and they start to trade forearms back and forth and they are packing heat. Sasha twirls around Charlotte and tries for her Bank Statement but is caught by Charlotte who wrecks her back with a series of backbreakers but there is only a two count again. Charlotte slowly begins to look deranged and distraught, muttering to herself it seems as it goes longer and longer. Charlotte props Sasha up onto the table and she goes up top but Sasha immediately is up and countering. Sasha strangely moves the table to the whole other corner of the ring and then suddenly she brings her up for a running powerbomb but her back looks to go out. Charlotte responds by slinging Sasha into the table twice, yet the table never gives before hitting Natural Selection for the win. This was a really flat finish and Boston looked super confused and bummed out. I have to give this high marks for being a really good match but the finish was way too flat. The finally two bumps Sasha took into the table were really disturbing in my book. ***1/2

WWE SmackDown Live 10-18-2016

Randy Orton came out and cut a promo that was cryptic but pretty dumb. This seems to be a standard for young Randall.

Randy Orton vs Luke Harper
Harper deserves so much more in this business. He goes for a dive and takes a wicked cut off bump from Orton. They fight up high in the corner for a while until Orton finally hits a superplex and Harper sells like his back is broken. Wyatt's usual darkness suddenly hits the arena and out come the cell phone lights. We see druids with black sheep masks rolling Bray down in an open casket. Yes, an open fucking casket. Bray is smiling and laughing as he is carried to ringside and Orton stares at him blankly. A commercial break comes and suddenly Orton is down and out on the floor with Wyatt out of the casket stalking him. The referee counts Randy nearly out but he makes it back in the ring and Harper brings more punishment. Harper hits a nice sit out slam for a two count and Wyatt opens the casket and teases Harper rolling him in it, and Harper begins to do some gator rolls on top of that to add greatness. Orton slowly gets up and fights out of a headlock, sending Harper dangerously close to going inside the casket setting up for his usual comeback. Clotheslines, his powerslam, and the DDT are set up but Bray comes from behind for the DQ but Harper and Wyatt are happy to whip some ass. Totally not a bad match but just a storyline progression rather than a good match. Kane is suddenly in the casket as things seem dire for Orton, and he grabs Bray before beating on Harper as well. Great, I love a 50 year old beating up the young buys. The heroes conquer and yet again the lights go out and it is just Orton and Kane alone. There's weird confusion and Kane hits his fire, Orton looks perplexed. Meh. **1/2

AJ Styles is in the back cutting his usual, dickhead promo about how awesome he is and how lame Ellsworth is. He calls Ellsworth a “fat, skinny turd”. That's a Triple H go-to insult as we all know.

Alexa Bliss vs Naomi
This is a total placeholder match before Alexa gets her big title match on November 8th. Alexa is in her Freddy Krueger gear which is pretty awesome. Naomi is also fucking awesome with her wild entrance. Both women get into a shoving match in the early going until Naomi gets sick of Alexa's shit yet Alexa cowers into the ropes like a coward. Naomi takes her down and starts peppering her with shots but Alexa takes control quickly. Naomi throws out some rapid-fire kicks and Alexa is in trouble. A springboard body press only gets a two count for Naomi. Alexa finds herself in control for a bit but Naomi makes her eat the turnbuckle, pulling her hard into the corner. Alexa gains control we see with a rake to the eyes and now she works a crevate hold. What an awesome sight to see on WWE TV in this day and age! Alexa has her total bitch face on in full force. Naomi starts up an inspired comeback to run into the finish. These two are good, Alexa much better than Naomi in my opinion and this was a good showing for them. Twisted Bliss is a great finisher. **3/4

Alexa cuts a promo after the match with Renee Young about her title match against Becky Lynch in Scotland. It was the usual, bitchy affair that I give two thumbs up to.

Curt Hawkins came out and cut a fucking HORRID promo, complete with over-exaggerated pandering to the camera as is usual with this goofy gimmick. He shits on Apollo Crews and refuses to wrestle, gets beat up like a dork and runs off. Someone hates this man.

Speaking of horrid promos, out comes Carmella to talk like an idiot and act like a 13 year old. She bitches about Nikki Bella, and shockingly out comes NIKKI BELLA. She stomps her way down to cut another pointless promo and god, why is this still going on?

James Ellsworth is backstage with Renee and he cuts the typical babyface promo about having this huge World title match tonight and how special he knows it is. He gets visually emotional and it is so great. Learn from this goof people.

Dolph Ziggler, Heath Slater, and Rhyno vs Mike Mondo, Ken Doane, and The Miz
This is a wacky, fun six man. I think this is a great way to try and get a lot of guys over at once but the problem is that a few of these guys are just not important. Slater and Rhyno were fun at first but they're starting to get old fast. The Spirit Squad to me was a one-off for No Mercy that has stuck around far too long for me. The heroes beat on the bad guys for a while until they were overwhelmed , and were forced to fight from underneath. Basic, to the point and not full of bullshit over booking so I can't hate it. Miz and Ziggler continue to have magic together. Heath Slater took a really mean hot tag that got a huge response. Slater is one of the more underrated guys in WWE by far. Doane took the pin when Miz hit Slater behind the ref's back. Much better than I expected. ***

Natalya and Daniel Bryan have a backstage segment. That's all there is to say.

Jack Swagger vs Baron Corbin
These two are not good together at all. Why does this series keep going on? HAVE MERCY ON OUR SOULS MY GOD!

Corbin beats the ever loving shit out of Swagger on the floor for a while. Then he beats him up in the ring. Swagger sold badly. Corbin thankfully beat him in quick fashion. Please let this be the end. **

AJ Styles(c) vs James Ellsworth for the WWE World Championship
They did an angle with Ambrose who tried politicking into being ref for this match and Daniel Bryan wasn't down for that. Instead, he made him ring announcer and timekeeper apparently. Ambrose comes into the ring with a mic and works as ring announcer, as well as doing a fucking stupid dance for a minute. Why do they make Ambrose a goof? Then again, why do they make AJ a goof? I guess everyone in WWE nowadays has to be a moron to be a star. Ellsworth tries for the early advantage but gets locked in an abdominal stretch. Ambrose distracts AJ by getting on the mic, AJ gets mad and turns his back on Ellsworth but still beats him up because he's a goof. AJ beats the fuck out of Ellsworth and Ellsworth tries to find willpower all the while Ambrose shows an ad for the Ellsworth shirt. The fans are not really down with all the silliness here I don't believe. More AJ abuse on Ellsworth that is just great. AJ looks to have dropkicked Ellsworth's face off and jesus it is glorious. AJ totally turned this match into a way to get over despite being thrown in this mini-feud with a nobody. That proves how great he is these days. Ellsworth is given a vertical suplex back first into the corner and AJ fires up, rolling out to the floor and screaming at Ambrose. This is fantastic work. AJ goes up top for a superplex but again, Ambrose distracts him on the mic with more silly shit. Ellsworth tries for a cross body but AJ moves and he crashes and burns. AJ kicks his lungs out with a shin kick to the chest and stomps the shit out of him. In a great touch, one of Ellsworth's boots starts to come lose further making him look like a moron that can't do shit. He keeps being thrown in and out of the ring by AJ and Ambrose both. AJ doing so to try and win by countout and Ambrose not wanting that to happen. What I don't get is why didn't AJ just hit his finish and win, avoiding even fucking with a countout? Come on creative. Ellsworth hits a really awesome superkick out of NOWHERE and gets a great near fall! Think about this; AJ Styles and company managed to get a false finish with JAMES GODDAMN ELLSWORTH. The fans start to lose it as Ellsworth wills himself to try and take advantage but AJ is quick to squash him into the canvas with a spinebuster. More heinous beating on Ellsworth. AJ keeps pounding away on Ellsworth who is in the ropes so the referee calls for the DQ and Ellsworth gets a technical win despite being destroyed. Ambrose happily announces AJ as the loser, and AJ suddenly sells like he was out smarted. Ambrose gets in the ring, AJ rushes him and is suckered into Dirty Deeds like a true moron. This was a mixed bag for me. ***

NXT Takeover Toronto 11-19-2016

THIS IS A FUCKING WRESTLING SHOW KIDS! It is no secret that there are a lot of us “online fans” that love the NXT product and I will say that sometimes I get lost. This show though is what I needed to get the fix back in my bloodstream! LET US BEGIN

Bobby Roode had the most goddamn epic entrance in history. Fuck any others. Toronto naturally loved their native son. GOOSEBUMPS. Tye came out and got a HUGE reaction also. This is what makes wrestling awesome, two super over dudes going at it for our enjoyment without any kind of complex bullshit; just making it about who the MAN really is. Not Seth Rollins this time.

Bobby Roode vs Tye Dillinger
These two are such awesome, unsung workers and they did a fantastic job of showing off their wares here. Roode is clearly ripping Flair's swag but you know what? HE MAKES IT WORK AND A LITTLE DIFFERENT. Take notes 'rasslin rookies. Tye is great though man, his whole Perfect 10 schtick is so great. Tom Phillips and Corey Graves are a great commentary team that I need in my life many times over. Phillips has really improved drastically since being the fucking idiot on NXT tapings. ANYWAYS THE WORK!

So Roode looks pissed off that Toronto liked Tye a smidgen as much as they did him so he decides that SHIT IS ON. Roode circles Tye like a dog squaring up a cat in their yard and we immediately get a “this is awesome” chant. I love you, Toronto. Roode literally just stares at Tye for 45 seconds or so and finally Tye whips his ass. Tye gets an upper hand and Roode is trying to find any advantage possible while also bouncing around the floor like a superball. Tye really looked great here, putting over hatred for his former partner while also not compromising his fun babyface gimmick. Toronto remains split between these two throughout and man, it made this feel special. I get that NXT crowds generally are sterile in terms of simply marking for the sake of it rather than really buying things and being a measure of business yet this crowd truly felt INTO everything. This is a very bare bones match in the best possible way. There aren't a lot of huge spots or anything, just old school pro wrestling with crowd work and simplistic psychology, proof that the art is very much alive and well in some corners of this globe. Just don't sniff around any warehouses addressed to the Carter family. Roode puts the heat on Tye like his name rhymes with Pixie Barter and Tye rolls around like a wounded animal. While Roode tries for a Rude Awakening of all things, A Perfect 10 chant throws him off to lead into a comeback that is quickly thwarted by said neckbreaker that was made famous by a man with fantastic ring gear. Roode is really a master of heel work, giving the right look and movement to just make you want his death filmed for your viewing. Tye hulks up like the babyface killer he is and gives Roode a run for his money. Toronto lets us know repeatedly that both these guys are great. Thanks for the breaking news guys. This is fucking awesome and the perfect opener for this show. I'm not giving you a peak of the finish because it is really good and you gotta eat your vegetables before you get to know the outcome! ***3/4

The Authors of Pain vs TM61 in the Finals of the Second Annual Dusty Rhodes Classic with Paul Ellering hanging above the ring in a cage
This is a great example of a gimmick match having a REASON for it. It's the old school manager equalizer while saving a true cage match stipulation for something else. I'm quite interested in how this whole tournament fell and why but that's the beauty of this great business; you just really never know. In any event, this match is a huge test for both teams and a challenge to see how good they really are on a large show.

Interestingly Toronto really didn't care about TM61 and gave the bad guys a better reaction coming out. The “Crash Cage” contraption they used for Ellering was quite cheesy I would say and the production they made of him getting in the thing was also over the top but hey, this shit happens in wrestling all the time. I'd say it was very low on the list of the most corny stuff ever so it wasn't a huge detriment. The match itself was fairly simple with TM61 playing the smaller, more agile faces to the Authors massive, brutish heel tactics. Immediately Razar puts Thorne up on his shoulders and vaults him up onto the Crash Cage set up and does a fucking SOMERSAULT DIVE ONTO HIS OPPONENTS. That man hates life. Thorne doesn't have the advantage long, he takes a beating thanks to the Authors being much more devious than he is. This match was good but the crowd didn't really care much. I don't know if this is because of this having poor build or just simply that this match happened to be the weakest link of this card. All four guys did well though and TM61 are going to fuck around and cripple themselves in a matter of months if they keep up their pace. This match however felt like one of those cringy Jim Herd gimmick ideas that failed though so it hurt this whole thing a lot. The constant bullshit camera angles that were clearly used to attempt to make this whole idea seem revolutionary and clever. It wasn't either. At least this wasn't the Chamber of Horrors or the Triple Cage so Hunter isn't all the way nuts. The crowd ended up getting into this late into the match thanks to some good spots. Then Thorne totally killed his partner Miller with another stupid dive and looks to hurt himself. Ellering uses this moment to drop a chain down and his man tries for a chain shot and Thorne blocks, sending the chain FLYING INTO THE CROWD! I don't believe anyone was hurt. It wasn't long until the finish happened and everyone rejoiced. **3/4

#DIY vs The Revival(c) in a 2 out of 3 Falls match for the NXT Tag Team Championship
These four men are magical together. Then again they're just magical in general. You have The Revival who might be the best duo in wrestling not named Nick and Matt, while #DIY is the great result of two phenomenal singles workers coming together to forge something different for themselves. The Revival are also GREAT heels and god do the fans hate their asses most of the time when they aren't trying to get themselves over. This match is so damn great because they all were at their absolute best. From the beginning, everyone was in the perfect place. There was a beautiful stereo dropkick spot by #DIY that is a must see in and of itself. The Revival put the heat on Ciampa during the first fall, beating the everloving shit out of him with forearms and such. Wilder hits like a mule, thudding his huge forearms off Ciampa. I love Dawson's scowl. Ciampa was the perfect babyface taking the heat also, never just fully dying and always working to fight up and eventually we get an early hot tag to Gargano who cleans up the ring. Gargano is so fluid in everything he does, and he's a guy that makes this very difficult sport seem easy. He gets crossed up though and takes The Machine for the end of the first fall. Great booking here, the heels have the advantage and early nearly silencing the crowd. Gargano writhes in pain and Ciampa is neurotic on the apron pleading for the tag as the ref checks on his broken body. We get the start of the first fall and Gargano nearly gets a flash pin but shit just isn't that simple. The Revival use the ref's lack of eyes behind him skull and keep Gargano hurting. I LOVE THESE TEAMS. Gargano is just as perfect of a face as Ciampa is, throwing shots when he needs to as he is pummeled. The Revival use the heat as a chance to show off various double teams while never getting the easy win. Dawson uses a Gory Special during the heat and I am so happy. Gargano quickly fires up and takes out both of his opponents with a great enzugiri/tornado DDT combo. Wilder crawls under the ring and interrupts a tag for Ciampa and Gargano gets mauled in the corner before Ciampa loses his shit. Hart Attack on Gargano isn't enough for two falls though and Dawson is clearly amazed by this. Gargano counters an avalanche belly to back into a body press before getting the big hot tag for Ciampa and Ciampa brings the fire! Dawson tries to cross things up but eats a reverse Rough Ryder for a near fall. Really cool move there. The Revival are constantly trying to work in a distraction but it works sporadically at best in this second fall. Ciampa also can't find a win despite throwing his best at Dawson and now both sides are giving that “how can we do this?” vibe. Ciampa gets caught sleeping and Gargano is drug into the ring to be executed yet Ciampa comes to save the day yet can't get them a fall. The distraction ends up working in #DIY's favor and it is all tied up after fall two! Great pacing, and now we get the tercera caida! Wilder and Ciampa have a really fun strike exchange early and it isn't long until Dawson is added to the party. Great false finishes back and forth for a bit, always building bigger each time. Gargano as the desperate hero is ALL MONEY! More amazing heel work by Revival. More great, last minute saving by Ciampa. In a really great callback to the August show, Gargano finds himself locked in Dawson's Indian Death Lock yet this time he finds a rope break and Toronto pleads for Johnny Wrestling. Wilder is tagged in and Revival tease for #DIY's finish and instead, Wilder is caught with Revival's own MACHINE! IT ISN'T ENOUGH! MY GOD WHAT A BUILD! Dawson tries to pull a fast one but the ref catches him pulling tights which could have bombed but Toronto ATE IT UP. Very interesting spot there. Chaos ensues and Wilder clips Gargano's knee and tries for a leglock but we get a series of roll ups back and forth until Gargano locks on the Garga-No Escape and Ciampa stops a Dawson save with his armbar! DOUBLE SUBMISSION AND DOUBLE TAP OUT! Goddamn what a match! This is hands down the tag match of the year by a landslide and in an era with The Young Bucks that is a huge statement. Bravo men! ****3/4

This crowd ate this match up like poutine and never waned in any bad way. This felt like an example of a re-education of tag team wrestling by Hunter and NXT to the world; it isn't about mixed bag tag teams, it is about logical work using tag teams as the gimmick match is was originated as. Tag wrestling is only as good as it's teams and NXT's division is rather deep right now.

In an interesting moment, we get a shot of Jim Ross in the crowd. Ross has recently been part of the World of Sport revamp in the UK oddly enough, as well as his New Japan announcing on AXS TV. Perhaps a working agreement in the future somewhere? You never know these days.

Asuka(c) vs Mickie James for the NXT Women's Championship

They really put over Asuka with testimonials by former NXT women talking about how they were murdered by her. Tons of talk about her kicks which are obviously pretty stiff. Cut to Mickie James love also, and I'm wondering how and why WWE lost this very simple trait of building up a logical story towards a intelligent and enjoyable ending. Then again we do have a show coming up that could change that. Mickie looked phenomenal for someone that has taken a long hiatus from the business. Asuka looked like a beautiful serial killer. Also, she is OVER.

I quickly made a connection between the swagger of both Asuka and one Tetsuya Naito. I think it is that nonchalant way they glare at their “prey” as it were. Toronto believed Mickie would perish, and I bet some of her blood vessels did after Asuka's mean strikes. Both ladies try to “out-crazy” each other and believe me, Asuka will win that battle against any of these NXT ladies. Nikki Cross probably disagrees but I feel like she'll have a chance to prove herself shortly. Asuka proves that when you wrench on someone's arm like a doorknob it hurts. Mickie proves she still has skills. Mickie holds open the ropes for Asuka who was on the floor and Asuka thanks her, and instead comes in under the ropes to spite her. Then we get some switches grappling back and forth. Mickie mistakenly trades kicks with Asuka and fails. She also finds herself on the outside and now Asuka holds open the ropes in jest. Mickie blows a kiss at her and Asuka is pissed. ASS TO THE FACE! That was great. Asuka is fired up, missed another hip attack and takes a hurricanrana on the floor for her troubles. Ankle Lock into a mental German Suplex on the FLOOR by Asuka. Mickie breaks a 10 count but takes a whipping for it. Asuka argues with Drake in Japanese in another classic moment in this match. Asuka kicks Mickie's lungs in and christ was it glorious. Mickie answered with a lackluster single legged crab but Toronto still approved. A shocking Muta Lock by Mickie pops me big time. Asuka made a horrendous sound while selling the move and it both disturbed and impressed me. Mickie fucks up and slaps Asuka, and while it did lead to a comeback it also lead to Mickie's later demise. This was GREAT! ****

Pat Patterson is in attendance and he is a gem.

Samoa Joe vs Shinsuke Nakamura(c) for the NXT Championship
These two are in the upper echelon of workers. I absolutely loved the build to these, with Joe losing his mind and forcing his rematch on Shinsuke with furious violence. Joe really is a fantastic monster heel, something that Pixie Barter and her goofs could never really grasp. In the same vain, Shinsuke has an aura second to none. Not to mention some next level psychology. Despite being a heel, Joe gets a THUNDEROUS Joe chant. You can't deny respect. The image of Joe staring menacingly into the hard camera is a visual to defy all time. Shinsuke's full orchestral entrance is also something to never forget, and that fucking crowd chanting to his theme always gets me. GIVE THIS MAN EVERY WWE THAT HAS EVER EXISTED! I love that Shinsuke has made a career out of having great matches while having the most unattractive faces ever, the man is living the dream. This fucking city chanted Shinsuke's theme AFTER IT STOPPED. I don't know if I've ever seen anything like that before. Then they chanted NXT, when it should have been Shinsuke! You fools! After Shinsuke came to the ring, Toronto turned on Joe and this got HEATED. Toronto made me look dumb and start a Nakamura chant. The match starts with vicious hatred all around. This crowd made this feel like UFC 205 or something with the energy they gave. This was worked very much like a UWF fight from Japan or something before it broke down into the usual WWE style but man was it cool. To state the obvious, these men hit HARD. They do some crowd brawling for a while throwing taters all over the place. Joe throws a dickish enzugiri and it looks great. So this naturally becomes a test of wills between two killers that are equals. Joe slings Shinsuke around like nothing and Shinsuke answers with mean knees from deep down. This felt like a BATTLE, something wrestling hasn't had on a larger scale in far too long it seems. Much of that is due to a lack of strong direction and vision, which NXT has. Joe does a really odd kneebreaker move that I've never seen in my damn life and Toronto didn't know how to take it really. Joe rolls into a fucking sick kneebar and Shinsuke survives only by a slight margin. Joe does a great job of working the bad knee. Joe's elbow suicida will never get old and Shinsuke sells like he was hit by a bullet train. Joe tries for a uranage on the steps, the same move that started the hatred after all yet Shinsuke narrowly avoids it and still can't fire up. Shinsuke finds an opening after a long beating and seems to rattle the monster with kicks and knees. Shinsuke's knees to the ribs were especially brutal looking. We get a powerbomb/boston crab/STF combo by Joe, which is transitioned into a crossface that has Shinsuke hurt bad. Shinsuke tries for a counter but we get a stalemate that leads into Joe's awesome powerslam for a near fall. Shinsuke perseveres and lands a nasty second rope knee strike on Joe and things are bad to zero. Man I love how these guys paced this, and made everything feel important even if it wasn't necessarily spectacular. These guys didn't reinvent the wheel, they just presented it with different angles. Joe landed at a very bad angle on a Shinsuke German suplex that made us all hope for more but we got a very disturbing rolling sweep bump by Shinsuke who lands high on his back. Shinsuke manages to hit Kinshasa but it isn't enough! Joe looks absolutely fucked up as Shinsuke measures for another and is caught in a Coquina Clutch! Shinsuke fights Joe into the corner again and again to try and break the hold but he takes a combination german/dragon/straight jacket german suplex and it isn't enough either! Lovely stuff. Joe is apparently cut and I realize that this poor guy has been hurt like every Takeover he's been on. At least they haven't been really bad injuries but god. Kinshasa to the back of the head in the ropes! Joe rolls outside and looks dead. Shinsuke rushes Joe and takes a low blow behind the ref's back before being slung with the uranage on the steps followed by a Muscle Buster for the win! Shocking finish for many but I think that will lead us down to a Shinsuke reclamation. Still, this was a fantastic match with a really strong finish that leaves more to be desired. Tom Phillips tells us that Joe is now the first two-time NXT Champion and my heart flutters, recalling my Joe fanboy days going as far back as 2005. Boy, I love this business sometimes. ****1/2

This show has to be on the shortlist of top cards of the entire year anywhere in the world. This had great wrestling everywhere and even a bad gimmick match had good in-ring stuff involved. The booking was solid throughout and in every instance things felt both logical and a progression towards a larger ending to things. Massive kudos!

In the coming days will be a write up of Survivor Series, and a more generalized viewpoint on pro wrestling today in editorial form. Again, I've come to a point where simply reviewing matches has gotten old to me and I've got to spice this sucker up!